Established to honor the slain heroes of the Civil War, "Decoration Day" was first proclaimed by General John Logan in 1868 . Many places have claimed the honor of being the "Birthplace of Memorial Day." However, it was a women's memorial association in Columbus, Georgia, whose generosity in decorating the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers prompted an editorial piece by Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune that extended the practice of spreading flowers on soldiers' graves.
Chaplain William Lee of the American Legion Post No. 32 will now lead us in the opening prayer.
The sentiments of General John A. Logan's order designating a memorial day for decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country are as true today as they were 130 years ago -
ATTENTION TO ORDERS
General Order No. 11
Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
I. 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 churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or 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 breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? . . .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 found 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 free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and 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 in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with 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 as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
By command of:
JOHN A. LOGAN,
N. P. CHIPMAN,
It is now my pleasure to introduce our guest speaker, Steve Dillman, former commander of the American Legion, Department of Colorado. Steve is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, a retired member of the Boulder Police Department, and a successful business man. Steve's family includes a son who is also a veteran of the Navy, a daughter teaching in Vermont and a lovely wife who is both a past president of the Colorado Auxiliary and a member of the Legion Color Guard. Please join me in welcoming Steve Dillman.
Thank you Commander Dillman.
I would now ask the Commanders and presidents of the area's veterans groups and the auxiliaries to present their honors.
(Presentation of Wreaths)
Before the final presentation of honors by the combined honor guard and the playing of Taps, I would like to acquaint you with the history of this melody.
In 1862, Union Army Capt. Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing, VA. The Confederate Army was on the other side of this narrow strip of land. During the night, Capt. Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay wounded on the field. Crawling on his stomach through the gun fire, the captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When he finally reached his own lines he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier - but the soldier had died. Suddenly, the captain went numb with shock. In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier - his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and, without telling his father, enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The heartbroken father asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. That request was turned down because the soldier was a Confederate. Out of respect for the father, however, they said they would give him one musician. He chose a bugler, whom he asked to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. That music was the haunting bugle melody we now know as "Taps".
BUGLER SOUND TAPS
(Present Arms during Taps)
Our ceremony ends with a rendition of 'Amazing Grace' by piper Molly McLean. This simple hymn is often heard at funerals and memorial ceremonies all over the world. For many of us it will always call to mind deaths of friends around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes out ceremony. I would like to thank you all for joining us today and call to your attention that the President has called for a National Moment of Remembrance for all Americans at 3 p.m. local time today. At that time please - wherever you are - take one minute to think of the Americans who have died to ensure freedom around the world.
You are invited to join American Legion Post 32 in honoring the mother of our post's namesake. Veterans are invited to a reception being held at the American Legion Post.
Return to Home Page