In 1866, a group of women visited a Columbus, Mississippi, cemetery to place flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers. They noticed the nearby graves of Union soldiers had been neglected. They were, after all, the enemy. And they were far from home.
The women placed some flowers on their graves, though, and in Mississippi, a deeply divided nation began to heal. Their act of respect, and similar ones across the nation, eventually grew into what Gen. John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, would designate as Decoration Day, a national day of remembrance. The Union and Confederate holidays would be merged in the wake of World Wars I and II and become officially known as Memorial Day in 1967.
We offer this glimpse of history as a reminder that Monday we will honor those men and women who sacrificed their lives to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. And it is our passionate hope that the holiday will once again bring unity to our divided nation.
“Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners,” Logan wrote in his order. “Let no 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.”
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You will have many opportunities to remember those brave souls we honor on Memorial Day. There will be somber ceremonies up and down the Coast. Attend one if you can. If you can’t, please pause for a moment at 3 p.m. Monday, the moment designated by Congress to remember those men and women who didn’t make it home.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.
MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
Crusaders for Veterans and the Memorial Committee will conduct a ceremony at 9 a.m. Monday at the Biloxi National Cemetery, rain or shine.
City of Gulfport and VFW Post 2539 will conduct a ceremony at 7:30 a.m. Monday at Barksdale Pavilion in Jones Park at U.S. 90 and 49. Photos will be displayed of the 102 Mississippi service members killed fighting the Global War on Terrorism.
American Legion Post 77 will conduct a ceremony at the post home on Waveland Avenue at 11 a.m. Monday.
American Legion Post 139 in Bay St. Louis will place flags on veteran graves in the area at 9 a.m. Sunday, and hold a brief ceremony at the gravesite of the post’s namesake, Clement R. Bontemps, at St. Mary Cemetery followed by a service at the post club house, 645 Green Meadow Road.
Cities of Gautier and Vancleave along with American Legion Post 1992 will conduct a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Tower in front of City Hall at 11 a.m. Monday. Lunch will follow at the Post, 3824 Old Spanish Trail.
Memorial Day Sing at 10 a.m. Monday at Campground Baptist Church, 20577 Mississippi 53, will feature The Bibletones, The Perrys, The Diplomats and Damascus Road. Catfish or chicken lunch plates for $10.