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Memorial Day

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The 30th day of May 1868 is designate for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades, who died in defense, of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every City, Village, and hamlet, church yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us for the purpose, among other things 'of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings, which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.' What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their hearts a barricade between our country, and its foes, their soldier lives were the revilee of freedom, to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance, all that the consecrated wealth and toils of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of averice, 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.

If other eyes grow dull, and other hands black, and other hearts cold, in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light, and warmth, of life remain to us.

Let us,then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of Springtime: let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor. Let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us, a sacred charge upon a nations gratitude the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan.

Memorial Day, as we now know it, was originally named 'Decoration Day' and became a national observance on the 30th day of May in 1868 following the order of General John A. Logan who was then serving in Congress as a representative from Illinois.

Although there are many reports of similar observances prior to this date, General Order Number 11, penned by Logan, is widely accepted as the origin. Many believe that Logan was inspired by various events that had been organized by southern women who felt compelled to decorate the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.

As a means to honor the fallen of the American Civil War, Decoration Day called on all Americans to adorn their grave sites with flowers and provide much needed support to the grieving families of lost loved ones. As the years passed and the US engaged in other wars, the significance of the occasion grew to reflect those losses as well. Eventually, the Federal Government passed into law, the observance of Memorial Day annually on the last Monday in May.

Often referred to as the 'unofficial first day of Summer', many have lost sight of the significance of the holiday. Taking advantage of the pleasant weather and a three-day weekend, beach trips and cook-outs have become the priority of many Americans while fewer are actually participating in ceremonies honoring our fallen heroes.

The depth of grief and sadness of those who lost loved ones, those that made the ultimate sacrifice, must never be forgotten or devalued by apathy. It is written in Logan's words and on the hearts of the survivors, that the price they paid deserves our most somber remembrance on the day set aside to do just that. The National Moment of Remembrance, established in 2000, encourages all Americans to pause at 3:00 pm, and acknowledge that our precious freedoms were not won without great loss.

So, as you head out for the beach, or to the mountains, or to the grocery store for hot dogs and hamburgers, take a moment to show respect for those whose dinner table has an empty seat. After all, it's what they fought and died for.

The Town of Forest City will be holding their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 29 at 11:00 on Main Street at the flag pole. The ceremony is sponsored by the following: The Town of Forest City, Marine Corps League CPL Chris Elbert Detachment #1221, American Legion Willis Towery Post #74, American Legion Ray Robertson Post #423, Disabled American Veterans, Chapter #25, Boy S​couts of America, RS Central MCJROTC, and Sons of the Revolution. The Town invites everyone to join them as they recognize those who paid the ultimate price for our country.

American Legion Post 74 Salutes Rutherford County First Responders & Family: Saturday, May 27, 3-8pm; 2501 64/74A Hwy., Rutherfordton.

For more Memorial Day events,

visit rutherfordweekly.com and click on things to do.

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