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DECORATION DAY
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[ Also see Holidays Patriotism Soldiers ]

A shot fired at the old flag aroused the anger of a great people. Who can describe those historic years? The heavens were suddenly black. Fierce eagles of war flew across the lurid clouds. The awful storm rolled thunders along the sky. Reverberating, they shook the Atlantic coast and the banks of the Mississippi. They crashed over Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg. Forked lightnings played among the clouds around Lookout Mountain. Fire ran along upon the ground in Tennessee, and in Virginia, swamps and rivers were turned to blood. It was the nation's midnight. The death angel was abroad with unsheathed sword. There was a great cry in the land, for there was not a house among half a million where there was not one dead. Four years the storm raged. The iron hail rattled incessantly, prostrating armed men, and crushing woman's tender heart. It was a deluge of blood. Then muttering thunders ceased; the clouds broke away, and out of the blue sky a dove came, and lo! in her mouth was an olive leaf. More than a quarter of a century has passed. Peace still abides. "Over the cannon's mouth the spider weaves his web." But while mighty people are busied with great enterprises, they do not forget--cannot forget--the brave men who purchased peace by their valor and blood.
      - Charles E. Allison

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.
      - Charles E. Allison

Memorial Day is one of the most significant and beautiful occasions of the year. It shows the sentiment of the people toward those who gave their lives for a good cause, and it teaches a lesson in patriotism which is without a parallel.
      - Charles E. Allison

The Union army demonstrated the stability of representative government. In the estimation of Europe the American Republic was an experiment. Would it go to pieces by the earthquake shock of civil war? Jealous kings said "Yes," but when the red lips of Grant's cannon thundered "No!" thrones trembled.
      - Charles E. Allison

When the war began thousands of young men, the flower of American youth, were looking out of college halls upon a future bright with professional honors. They flung books aside and seized rifles. They became "History's Graduates." Hundreds of thousands of young Americans were anticipating a future replete with the profits and emoluments which reward business genius and integrity. Straightway they abandoned cherished life plans in order to defend free institutions.
      - Charles E. Allison

Alas, many who went forth to the deadly fray returned not, save encoffined for the tomb, or smitten with a mortal wound or deadly disease, which claimed their lives at length. Over the memory of these, we drop the tear of affection, and strew above their sleeping dust the fragrant emblems of a nation's undying gratitude, and chant again their funeral requiem.
      - American Wesleyan

Here sleeps heroic dust! It is meet that a redeemed nation should come, to pay it homage at such tombs, wreathing the memory of its patriot dead in the emblems of grateful affection. These grass-grown mounds, these flower-decked graves, awake the memories of the past, and the history of our nation's perils and its triumphs comes crowding on us here.
      - American Wesleyan

The immortal Lincoln bowed in prayer, and plead Heaven's almighty aid, vowing the proclamation of freedom through all the land to all the inhabitants thereof; and though the assassin's deadly arm cut short his high career, his soul went up to God with four million broken manacles in its hand.
      - American Wesleyan

Their heroic deeds take rank in that grandeur whose full appreciation requires the lapse of thoughtful years. Their greatness, heartily as it is recognized now, will grow more in splendor as the fruits of their victory, shall fall in successive years to enrich the nation's history. It has happened to them as to all prominent actors in either religious or political contests, that the excellency of their deeds could not be fully discovered until the smoke and dust of battle had been swept away. In such time the aspirations of slandering enemies and the jealousy of lukewarm associates, and the timidity of friends in faintly claiming deserved praise, all conspire in withholding that generous award of honor which after generations take delight in bestowing. Thus the generations to come will continue the repetition of the tributes to these patriots which we have this day observed, rehearsing with ever-increasing praise the moral grandeur of their deeds.
      - Rev. Baumme

Other lands have had heroes, but ours were more--they were saviors, and by their sacrifices have saved the greatest land under the shining sun.
      - Horace Wilbert Bolton

There is a shrine in the temple of age, where lie forever embalmed the memories of such as have deserved well of their country and their race.
      - John Brown (1)

Cover the thousands who sleep far away--
  Sleep where their friends can not find them to-day;
    They who in mountain, and hillside and dell
      Rest where they wearied, and lie where they fell.
        Softly the grass-blade creeps round their repose;
          Sweetly above them the wild flow'ret blows;
            Zephyrs of freedom fly gently o'erhead,
              Whispering names for the patriot dead.
                Cover the faces that motionless lie,
                  Shut from the blue of the glorious sky;
                    Faces once lighted with smiles of the gay--
                      Faces now marred with the frown of decay.
                        Eyes that beamed friendship and love to your own;
                          Lips that sweet thoughts of affection made known;
                            Brows you have soothed in the day of distress;
                              Cheeks you have flushed by the tender caress.
                                Faces that brightened at War's stirring cry;
                                  Faces that streamed when they bade you good-by.
                                    Faces that glowed in the battle's red flame,
                                      Paling for naught, till the Death Angel came.
                                        Cover them over--yes, cover them over--
                                          Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
                                            Kiss in your hearts these dead heroes of ours,
                                              And cover them over with beautiful flowers!
      - Will Carleton

It is instructive to read the arguments of the statesmen of forty years ago; but the war settled the issue, and no State nor combination of States can extricate itself from the loving grasp of all the States. "United we stand." "Divided" we cannot be. E Pluribus Unum.
      - Christian Advocate

Through all history, from the beginning, a noble army of martyrs have fought fiercely and fallen bravely for that unseen mistress, their country. So, through all history, to the end, as long as men believe in God that army must still march and fall, recruited only from the flower of mankind, cheered only by their own hope of humanity, strong only in the confidence of their cause.
      - George William Curtis

We hear much of the language of flowers. With them we crown the head of childhood, and deck the brow of beauty. They bring to the sick chamber the cheering remembrance of the grand expanse of strength and loveliness that is spread abroad without. They grace the festival. They soothe the grief of the funeral. They tell the deepest secrets of love, and pass into the cells of memory, never to be forgotten. But where have flowers ever been applied by man to a nobler, fitter purpose than by us to-day? Have we not done well to give the sweetest products of our native land to the memory of those who died to defend it? May not these flowers best spend the brief hour of their unassuming lives in doing honor to heroes, and wither and meet death on the graves of the truest hearts that ever bled?
      - W.H. Dana

These saved the Union--union which had perished
  But for the courage which their deeds revealed;
    No stripes were taken from the flag they cherished,
      No star was blotted from its azure field.
        The old survivors of that fight victorious,
          Some still remain, yet leave us one by one;
            They die, but never die their actions glorious--
              They die, but lives the work so nobly done.
      - Thomas Dunn English

In the book of nature, where every emotional, mental, and spiritual quality of humanity may find its correspondence and illustrations, flowers represent good affections, thoughts, and intentions toward others. As the flower precedes the fruit, and gives notice of its coming, so good thoughts, affections, and intentions precede and give promise of deeds in love to others. These cherished dead are now beyond the reach of our good deeds; to bring fruits to them would be vain, but to indulge good thoughts and affections toward them should enlarge our souls and wake in our breasts a more vigorous determination to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.
      - Homer Everett

For no such wretched end did our heroes die. In their last will and testament, sealed with their blood, they have bequeathed to us, as their dying legacy, a union stronger, nobler, freer than ever. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." By the gift of these men, and such as these, we have henceforth a more homogeneous country and a grander and higher civilization.
      - Edmund Burke Fairfield

No more shall the war-cry sever,
  or the widening rivers be red;
    Our anger is banished forever
      When are laureled the graves of our dead!
        Under the sod and the dew,
          Waiting the judgment-day--
            Love and tears for the Blue,
              Tears and love for the Gray.
      - Francis Miles Finch

As a flash of lightning in a midnight tempest reveals the abysmal horrors of the sea, so did the flash of the first gun disclose the awful abyss into which rebellion was ready to plunge us. In a moment the fire was lighted in twenty million hearts. In a moment we were the most warlike nation on the earth. In a moment we were not merely a people with an army--we were a people in arms. The nation was in column--not all at the front, but all in the array. I love to believe that no heroic sacrifice is ever lost; that the characters of men are molded and inspired by what their fathers have done; that, treasured up in American souls are all the unconscious influences of the great deeds of the Anglo-Saxon race, from Agincourt to Bunker Hill. It was such an influence that led a young Greek, two thousand years ago, when musing on the battle of Marathon, to exclaim, "The trophies of Miltiades will not let me sleep!" Could these men be silent in 1861; these, whose ancestors had felt the inspiration of battle on every field where civilization had fought in the last thousand years? Read their answer in this green turf. Each for himself gathered up the cherished purposes of life--its aims and ambitions, its dearest affections--and flung all, with life itself, into the scale of battle.
      - James Abram Garfield

Great God! We thank Thee for this home,
  This bounteous birthland of the free,
    Where wanderers from afar may come,
      And breathe the air of liberty;
        Still may her flowers untrampled spring,
          Her harvests wave, her cities rise,
            And yet, till time shall fold her wing,
              Remain earth's loveliest paradise.
                Give me the death of those
                  Who for their country die;
                    And oh, be mine like-their repose,
                      As cold and low they lie.
                        Their loveliest mother earth
                          Enshrines the fallen brave;
                            In her sweet lap who gave them birth,
                              They find a tranquil grave.
      - Col. T.A. Green

Soldiers of the Republic, the battles of the present are identical with the battles of the past. The form of warfare only is changed. The moral conflicts waged in our nation are as truly battles as were the conflicts of Gettysburg and Lookout Mountain.
      - David Gregg

We honor our heroic and patriotic dead by being true men, as true men by faithfully fighting the battles of our day as they fought the battles of their day.
      - David Gregg

With no jealousies to indulge and no envy to gratify, we seek to draw a lesson from the past that shall be to our future a beacon and a guide. To the sleeping martyrs, whose graves billow every battlefield, it matters little what we may now say or do. Our tender offerings of affection will be lost upon their mounds, and the sweet aroma of our scented flowers be uselessly exhaled to air, save as we revive our faith in the doctrines which they defended, and our zeal in the cause for which they died.
      - John P. Jackson

"It is the purpose of the commander-in-chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of the departed."
      - James Alexander Logan


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