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DECORATION DAY
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[ Also see Holidays Patriotism Soldiers ]

Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.
      - James Alexander Logan

Then as oft as the 30th of May returns with time's annual round let a grateful nation remember its dead, and with a floral offering decorate the tombs of its fallen heroes, while the dropping tear moistens the cold sod that covers their sleeping dust. To them we owe the liberty we enjoy; to them we owe the preservation of our institutions; and shall we not hold them in grateful remembrance? And though we may often differ in opinion, let us here be united. In God's name let us respect and love the dead who have died for us. Let this beautiful custom be perpetuated until the day shall become hallowed in the history of freedom. It carries with it the idea of our loss and the dear cost of liberty. It brings fresh to mind the deeds of our country's martyrs, it keeps alive and warm the greatest principles for which our sires poured out their blood, on which our republic is based.
      - James Alexander Logan

The passions of the titanic struggle will finally enter upon the sleep of oblivion, and only its splendid accomplishments for the cause of human freedom and a united nation, stronger and richer in patriotism because of the great strife, will be remembered.
      - James Longstreet

But the patriot dead are not only those who wore the blue and marched under the flag; not alone their graves do we honor. There were patriots who at home upheld the soldier's heart and inspired him to duty. There were the women, who gave their loved ones, who breathed up prayers for their safety and return, whose needles stitched for them, whose hands wrought for them, whose letters cheered them, whose love forever embodied itself in something that should comfort and relieve them. The memory of those patriot women we too would honor, and did we know where their bodies sleep, their graves we would decorate.
      - Rev. William McKinley

The martyrs of all ages are illustrious, not so much by virtue of their personal position and merits as from the fact that the great cause for which they suffered and sacrificed themselves has reflected upon them its own imperishable luster and glory. And if any cause can confer honor upon its defenders and martyrs, surely the cause for which these men suffered is such a one.
      - Rev. William McKinley

The army of Grant and the army of Lee are together. They are one now in faith, in hope, in fraternity, in purpose, and in an invincible patriotism. And, therefore, the country is in no danger. In justice strong, in peace secure, and in devotion to the flag all one.
      - William McKinley

When we look at our vast country with all its resources of wealth and power, at our system of free government with all the appliances for further advancement in greatness and intelligence, reaching as it does from ocean to ocean, with its fields, and mines, and streams, its hills and valleys, smiling in' the sunlight of freedom, inviting the poor and oppressed of all lands to come and occupy them, to plow and reap, to build and grow, and be happy--when we look at all this and think what we would have been had the rebellion proved a success, we feel that our comrades did not die in vain, and we feel that this is but a small token, indeed, of the love that we ought to show their memories. What tender emotions are awakened to-day in our minds as we bend over the silent, yet eloquent, mounds where the American soldier sleeps his last sleep.
      - J.F. Meredith

From age to age the honorable fame of this patriotic army will endure. It will not decrease, but rather increase with the flow of years. When the passions of the times are stilled in the grave and the men of this generation have passed away from the earth, the gathering plaudits of coming generations will greet the memory of the men who in a great crisis saved the national life.
      - Franklin Moore

And every village graveyard will have its green mounds, that shall need no storied monument to clothe them with a peculiar consecration--graves that hold the dust of heroes--graves that all men approach with reverent steps--graves out of whose solemn silence shall whisper inspiring voices, telling the young from generation to generation how great is their country's worth and cost, and how noble and beautiful it was to die for it.
      - George Putnam

When the life of the nation was attempted, when the cause of liberty and human rights called for their aid, they rushed forth to rally under the banner they loved, with grand singleness of purpose and heroic devotion--leaving all behind them, to meet toil and danger, hunger, sickness, wounds, and death, for nothing but the sublime satisfaction of doing their duty to their country and to mankind.
      - Carl (Karl) Schurz

Strew the fair garlands where slumber the dead,
  Ring out the strains like the swell of the sea;
    Heart-felt the tribute we lay on each bed:
      Sound o'er the brave the refrain of the free,
        Sound the refrain of the loyal and free,
          Visit each sleeper and hallow each bed:
            Waves the starred banner from sea-coast to sea;
              Grateful the living and honored the dead.
      - Rev. Samuel Francis Smith

This precious slumbering dust, when animate, leaving the peaceful pursuits of life, sundering the ties of friendship and love, and assuming the habiliments of the soldier, incurred exposure, hardship, fatigue, danger, death, inspired by no such love of glory, but rather by the consciousness which animated the hero of Trafalgar, "Our country expects every man to do his duty."
      - William Henry Sweet

But one way is open to the people of this country who would estimate the value of the services rendered by the union soldiers, living or dead. It is to try to imagine what the result would have been had the union been divided. There would have been two nations instead of one; twice as many foreign diplomats within the territory as now; twice as many possibilities of foreign complications; and much more than twice as much difficulty in settling them, while the influence of each fragment would be much less than half the amount exercised by the whole. Those who had a common ancestry which had been represented in the same halls of legislation, had cheered the same flag and fought together--not against each other--for freedom, would have been strangers and foreigners, aliens from the commonwealth of which Washington was the father. Mutual jealousies would make standing armies necessary, and war clouds would ever have lowered upon the political horizon. It was the valor of our soldiers that stood between the people of the United States and these evils.
      - Unknown,
        in the New York Christian Advocate

It is very pleasant to have the opportunity to grasp the friendly hand of those who thought so diametrically opposite, thirty years ago. It proves time not only heals, but also cools the blood, gives more mature judgment, enabling each to overlook the past, and while we do not claim t forget those dark hours in our life, nor withdraw an iota, nor impugn the motives or sincerity of an opponent, we can each forgive and while we let the dead past bury its dead, rejoice in the sunshine of the present, that brings comfort and happiness to all parts of our native land, as we remember above and over all else, we are American citizens.
      - Clark Wright

The best men we had in each of these two regiments are not visibly present with us now; the best and truest of our number lie buried on the battlefields of the south; some were clad in gray, some in blue; no towering monument marks their resting place, nor massive monolith stands sentinel. Buried where they fell, baptizing the soil with their blood, forever consecrating the ground, making it holy, while their life and death tell the world the story of how an American will fight, and if necessary die for what he believes to be the right.
      - Clark Wright

The light that shines from a patriot's grave is a pure and holy light, and while we are guided by it we shall never go into the paths of treason and rebellion. Let that light illuminate our pathway, and the noble example of the dead strengthen our love of country and devotion to duty. When patriotism in the hearts of the people is dead all is lost. It is the life-blood and soul of the national existence, the animating fire which makes a people great, and their history grand and beautiful.
      - Clark Wright

They pass before us like a long procession coming from their camping grounds amid the cemeteries, the battlefields, the graveyards of he south. To us they are no longer dead, they live--we can almost hear their well-known voices as with flashing eye, active limb, courageous lion hearts, once more they are with us, side by side, the blue, the gray, the private, the officer; on they pass, those who died at Roanoke, at Camden, at South Mountain, at Antietam, at Fredericksburg, and the battlefields of the south. Hayes and McComas, Kimbal, Sturges, Gadsden, Hamilton, Barnett, Wright, Reno, Jackson and Burnside, Grant and Lee.
      - Clark Wright

You who went forth with a mother's benediction; you who bade farewell to the children who received your last embrace at the place of embarkation; you who faced the enemy so boldly in the charge; you who died amid the carnage of battle alone alone, while the very stars of God seemed to look in pity upon you. O yes, you, you, my countrymen, whether from Georgia, or New York, tonight, these--the remnant of more than 2,000 men--these your comrades gathered here, salute you as we bring to mind your faithfulness as soldiers, and rejoice with you that our country has passed from the hurricane to the calm; from out of all that crash, of which we were part, to liberty; union, brotherly love, and peace.
      - Clark Wright


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