In May 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Union veteran's group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan, issued a righteous decree that May 30th be a national day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the American Civil War. The day was to be known as Decoration Day.
What did people do on Decoration Day?
- People from every walk of life laid flowers on the graves of their war dead; and,
- They creatively decorated them to honor the sacrifice of those who lay beneath the soil that entombed them
Today we gather in this silent city of the dead to memorialize, to preserve the memory of, these brave men and women who contended with our enemy in mortal combat in order that these United States might be clothed in freedom for every man, woman, boy or girl - regardless of their race, creed, or even early country of origin.
It is fitting that we conduct ourselves in this way each year.
We hold to a tradition at the Corinth Fire Department that at the start of our business meetings, we recite The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Many of our civic groups do the same. We can be heard repeating the memorized lines, "And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."I asked myself last evening as I stood to pledge, "Do I really affirm these words, or am I just intoning them out of habit or request?” I want these words to mean something to my children and grandchildren so that they carry with them the pride that I hold for this nation and her people.
So I put my hand to my chest, and with full voice, in invite you to repeat with me The Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag. Of the United States of America. And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all."
My friends, we, as Americans, possess something special, and wholly unique in the world. We steward something worth fighting and even dying for. But we must never allow minor irritants to become major distractions along the way to achieving our God-given purpose as a people.
Pettiness, disrespect, sectarian loathing, spoken and written untruths and even the dishonoring of our nation’s most cherished institutions must cease, for they hold no place among a people so blessed by their Creator.
I implore us, in the name of God, to resist such blatant misdeeds, that we might be a people for whom it can be said, “They are a city on a hill; a people set apart for special use.”
Let us Pray: “Our Lord and Our God. We gather here to memorialize those who have given so much so that we could be the beneficiaries of such great blessing. We ask that You guide our nation today as we sail into uncharted waters both here and abroad. Hold those who lead us at every level of government. Call us afresh to pray more for them than to criticize or judge them for their motives, for these are truly known only by You – and You see.
Draw close to the men, women, and children who grieve the loss of a loved one for whom we now gather to commemorate. They are ours – and we are theirs – and we stand with our hearts and hands wide open to help them.
We ask You again to bless the United States of America that she might be a blessing to the world.
In Your Name, I Pray. Amen.