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Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th, 2013

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? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a 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 found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of 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.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III . Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.

By order of
Grand Army of the Republic
May 5, 1868

Armistice Day, Veterans Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

[by Charles Cameron — for the UK, US and others, a day to remember ]


The Great War ended on this date a little short of a century ago, November 11th, 1918. My grandfather, Sir Henry Clayton Darlington, commanded troops at the Hellespont, so for me that war — and the Armistice which ended it — is but one degree of separation from personal memory.

Common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC traditions include two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 am, 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when armistice became effective.

Poppies grew in the fields of Flanders where so many of our soldiers died, and in the UK poppies are worn in the lapel on this day to remember them. In the words of the Laurence Binyon‘s poem For the Fallen,

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


Small Wars Journal has a history of the various Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day observances.

The poppy pressed between the pages of St Luke’s gospel (image, above) was picked by one Les Forryan, who served with the UK’s Army Service Corps in France and Belgium during the Great War, and the book itself was a “Soldier’s Pocket Testament”, given to him in 1915. The field of poppies and crosses (image, below) was photographed by Brandanno1 in Cardiff, Wales, in 2007. The image of HM Queen Elizabeth II (image, inset) is from a Daily Mail report in 2008.

In memoriam: a tipi and a garden, II

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — Memorial Day, USA ]

2. The garden:


The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the minor Great British Occasions — a stroll in the park with some of the Kingdom’s finest horticulturalists displaying their best, and not usually the place you’d go to be reminded of war, though the show itself does take place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners



It is only appropriate, then, to find this picture of Skippy, a Pensioner from the Korean War, with Korean designer Hwang Ji-hae, whose garden this year won a gold medal for its representation of the DMZ between North and South Korea…



with its abandoned watchtowers and partially overgrown barbed-wire fences…



its bottles, carrying messages from those on one side of the line to friends and family unreachable on the other…



its benches made of wood and dog-tags, its memories…



and the wildflowers that have been taking over the DMZ, reasserting nature’s primacy where men’s wars were fought.


Hwang Ji-hae named her garden Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden:

This year’s “DMZ Forbidden” garden is “going to be a symbolic place honoring everyone who suffered because of the war,” Hwang said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily in December in her studio in Gwangju.

The garden is a recreation of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, which has been kept nearly untouched for six decades since the 1953 Armistice Agreement. The zone has become a diverse habitat for various kinds of rare plants and animals.

To Hwang, the DMZ has become the “most beautiful garden on the planet,” though it symbolizes the legacies of the war and the tragic division of the Korean Peninsula at the same time, the artist said in the interview.

“The DMZ was formed organically after a major upheaval. It was created because of the war but is now a symbol of peace.”

According to a press release issued by Hwang’s agency on Tuesday night after winning the prize, 60 percent of the plants in the “DMZ Forbidden” garden are from Korea and some of them are indigenous to the DMZ area.

Hwang said that some of the British veterans of the Korean War she met last year talked about plants they saw in Korea, and they asked her to find them.

“There are six plants that are indigenous to the area near the DMZ, including Geumgang chorong [a type of bellflower], and they will all be part of the garden I’m creating,” she said during the interview in December.

“This is my way of thanking the veterans.”

In memoriam: a tipi and a garden, I

Monday, May 28th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — Memorial Day, USA ]

1. The tipi:


Inside the night, Afghanistan; in Arghandab, Afghanistan, a small American army base; inside the base beside the chapel a tipi; within the tipi photos of the fallen, cigarettes, an open bible, strong bonds, strong memories.



If you look closely, you will see cigarettes offered in front of the photos of the 21 members of 1-17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who had died here at the time Michael Yon, himself a former Green Beret turned warzone photojournalist, took the series of photos from which these two are taken – and which I urge you to visit this Memorial Day:

Soldiers put cigarettes in front of each photo, though they say that many of the fallen did not smoke.

Kanani Fong, friend of this blog, quotes a Blackfoot warrior’s poem in her comment on Michael Yon’s post:

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

I don’t think a church bureaucracy has the insight yet, in these non-smoker times, to call a cigarette a sacrament – yet there’s something sacramental about the friendship that comes with the giving of a cigarette to a fellow soldier, wounded and dying. And to my Lakota friends tobacco is a sacrament: a tobacco offering, ground pushing upward into sky, a prayer.

The buffalo too are sacred to the Lakota: it was White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought them the sacred Pipe.

I ask that you visit Michael Yon’s site, and make a small donation to help him keep up the work he’s doing. Just this month he was in Burma.

The bible is open to Psalm 31, verse 5:

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Our More Important National Debt

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

“…They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

 For the Fallen

Laurence Binyon

We might have a stronger Republic, a more civil society, a more robust democracy, if we gave more frequent thought to what we owe those who made the supreme sacrifice on our behalf as Americans.


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