Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
War does not determine who is right –
only who is left.
– Bertrand Russell
On May 30, 1868, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed the first major observance to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers.
James A. Garfield
On that first wide-spread Decoration Day, Ohio Congressman James A. Garfield, who had served as a Major General in the war, made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, in which he said:
. . . With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; plighted faith may be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the assaults of time and fortune, must still be assailed with temptations, before which lofty natures have fallen; but with these the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record which years can never blot . . .
A crowd of 5,000 heard him speak, and then decorated the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
By the late 19th century, many communities across America celebrated what was now called Memorial Day. After World War I, the dead from all of America’s wars were being honored. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, to be observed the last Monday in May.
Memorial Day is now marked at Arlington National Cemetery by the placing of a small American flag on each grave.
There are different days singled out by many nations for the remembrance of those who died as soldiers for their country. These commemoration days are not about the greatness of nations, or their military might. They are days for counting the true cost of war: all our dead loved ones who never came home.
All This Is Ended
by Rupert Brooke
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvelously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colors of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.
“All This Is Ended” from Rupert Brooke: Collected Poems – The Oleander Press, 2013 edition
Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) English poet, who enlisted at the outbreak of WWI in August 1914. In March of 1915, his poems “The Dead’ and “The Soldier” were published in The Times Literary Supplement. He was a Naval sub-lieutenant with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force when he died at age 27 on April 23, 1915, in Greece, of septicaemia from an infected mosquito bite. His collection of five wartime sonnets, 1914 & Other Poems was published posthumously in May 1915.