By SUSANNE MARIE POULETTE
On Monday, May 25th, many of us will be enjoying the last day of a three-day weekend, maybe with picnics, parties, parades, or visiting a favorite park or beach. It will also be Memorial Day, 2015, the annual day for our nation to commemorate and honor the men and women who died in the service of our country.
Surely, each of us views the policies of national defense and military service through the lens of our own convictions and philosophies. Many of us have experienced the pain of sacrifice for country, either first hand, or through family and friends.
I suggest we set aside personal ideologies for a day, and attend to the Presidential Proclamation – Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2015. The proclamation pays tribute to “…the fallen heroes who died in service to our Nation…With heavy hearts and a sense of profound gratitude, we mourn these women and men…”
In compliance with a congressional resolution, President Obama signed this year’s proclamation asking all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day. The hour of 11:00 a.m. of the same day is designated as time of prayer for permanent peace. Paragraph 5 of the proclamation states:
“In honor of all of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.”
To read the proclamation, go to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/22/presidential-proclamation-prayer-peace-memorial-day-2015
As The Writers’ Loop celebrates writers and readers, I’ll close with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Decoration Day.” Here, Longfellow writes of a new observance of his time, a day designated to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. It was called Decoration Day, for the practice of placing flowers on soldiers’ graves, and eventually led to our present Memorial Day. The poem was published in The Atlantic in June 1882, only a few weeks after the poet passed away at the age of 75.
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.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow