Home » May 26, 2024 - Pastor Message

May 26, 2024 - Pastor Message

July 17, 2024

People today have many ideas about the purpose of Memorial Day,

People today have many ideas about the purpose of Memorial Day, which we observe this Monday. Its true purpose, however, is deeply rooted in its origin following the cataclysm of the American Civil War, the deadliest war in US history in which over half a million American service members lost their lives. Memorial Day was established to honor their memory and their sacrifice, and it was later expanded to include service members who give their lives in every American armed conflict. To help us recall its true purpose, I have included below the order from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans’ organization established after the Civil War, instructing its members to observe the very first national Memorial Day. May its message ring as true in our ears as it did in theirs, and may it call us to the same action of remembering and honoring all our fellow Americans who make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our rights, past, present, and future.


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated 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 cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille 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 taste 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 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. If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, 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.

Fr. Marc Stockton


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