Vintage Memorial Day Card of Lady Liberty & Her Blossoms

We’re having a peaceful holiday weekend, but it’s very easy to forget why we have this holiday and what it is about, so I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the actual holiday. Memorial Day was once know as Decoration Day. Under either name, it’s a day to remember those who served and perished during war. The first Decoration Day was held shortly “after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.” The holiday has been expanded to encompass those from wars since. Parades and cemetery visits punctuate this day, and gravesites are decorated. The following poem shares the mixture of love, loss, gratitude, and suffering traditionally experienced today.

Decoration Day

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
  On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
  Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
  And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
  Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
  No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
  No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
  Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
  It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
  The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
  Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
  We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
  The memory shall be ours.