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Memorial Day, a chance to remember

May 16, 2024 11:13AM ● By Braden Nelsen

More than simply a “day off”, Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, has been set aside as a time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and has been a hallowed time since 1868. Across the country, flag ceremonies, services, and special recognition are paid as a thank-you to these brave men and women. These solemn remembrances are a perfect way to commemorate Memorial Day and pay tribute to those who died in the many uniforms of the armed forces. 

In the later years of the American Civil War, the embattled President Abraham Lincoln had been weighed down by the toll taken on American lives lost on both sides of the conflict. He, like many others, held those in the South and in the North to be not opposing sides or foreign combatants, but brothers, and members of the same nation. Lincoln spent much of his time during the war visiting those in the service, and it was clear they were near and dear to his heart. 

A particularly poignant moment, however, arose in 1864 when a Boston widow, Lydia Parker Bixby, was brought to the President’s attention. It was reported to the President that Bixby’s five sons had all died in the service, and while it was later discovered that at least one son had survived, the devastating loss struck the president, and he took pen in hand to write to the grieving mother. What follows is Abraham Lincoln’s words to Bixby in a letter dated Nov. 21, 1864:

“Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. 

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln”

Memorial Day, therefore becomes a day in which all Americans can, and should take the opportunity to remember those that, as President Lincoln put it, “laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.” It’s a day in which everyday citizens can remember those in the service who died from the American Revolution down to the current conflicts, and to let them, and others know their sacrifices were neither in vain, nor were they forgotten. 

Morgan County residents have a great opportunity to pay their respects and show their gratitude thanks to the local VFW and American Legion posts, which have announced their schedule for programs and Color Guards for Memorial Day, May 27, 2024, at the following locations around the county:

•  South Morgan Cemetery 8:00 a.m.

• North Morgan Cemetery 8:30 a.m.

• Milton Cemetery 9 a.m.

• Morgan County Building 10:30 a.m. 

• There will be a fly-over at the beginning of the program

• Mountain Green Cemetery 12 p.m. λ

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