I was honored to be asked to speak at Rememberance Park in Greenland on Memorial Day 2018. The following are my remarks.
This day was born in 1863 as the Civil War raged. Grieving relatives were placing flowers on confederate soldiers graves in Columbus, Mississippi, and noticed nearby the union solders’ graves were dusty and overgrown with weeds. The confederate women understood that the dead union soldiers buried nearby were the cherished loved ones of families and communities far away. They cleared the tangled brush and mud from those graves as well as their own soldier’s graves.
In 1866 when the Civil War was over, a New York drugstore owner closed his shop and asked all other shops in town to close up for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War.
In 1882 the nation observed its first official Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation’s wars.
We now stand in silence in a good and strong nation that remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.
We honor them not only for their sakes, but also for our own. If words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions, we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and final sacrifice.
So today, we share the tales of those we’ve lost, what they did to bring us to this place and rekindle the memories of our family and friends that are honored today. We do this so that everyone will pause to consider the sense of service, sacrifice and hope that built this great country in which we live.
I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems of the world but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does. Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.