Memorial Day 2014

May 23, 2014

All Posts, Editorials

As even President Obama may eventually understand, the full cost of war is never paid until decades after the shooting stops. The true cost of America’s wars is what one scholar has called the “Republic of Suffering.” Soldiers suffer. Survivors suffer the longest. And the point of Memorial Day has always been to acknowledge and pay respect to that suffering.

There are places in America where it is impossible to ignore the misery war brings. Some are fields where battles were once fought. And there are America’s expansive national cemeteries. And there are the little churchyards in New England with graves that date to the Colonial Era, and where locals are still interred, and where as many as a third of the graves are marked with simple, grey stones and the stones are carved with the dates 1862 or 1863 or 1864 or 1865.

Memorial Day, first called “Decoration Day,” began as an acknowledgment of the virtually unimaginable suffering that accompanied America’s worst war.

The Numbers

Nobody knows how many soldiers died in the Civil War. A conservative and reliable number is 620,000. Less reliable estimates range as high as 850,000. In comparison, 405,399 Americans died in the Second World War and 58,209 in Vietnam. Fifty-one thousand Americans died in three days at Gettysburg alone. Something like 7,000 unclaimed corpses littered the fields around the town of Gettysburg. The task of collecting those bodies fell to the dead mens’ suffering families. Or the bodies rotted and the fates of the souls who once inhabited them became mysteries.

Four-hundred-seventy-six thousand men were wounded in the Civil War – a war without anesthesia or antibiotics. One in 13 soldiers returned home missing at least one limb.

Virtually the entire student body of the University of Mississippi, 135 of 139 young men, died in the war. Most of them died within the same brief span of minutes in Pickett’s Charge.

Four hundred thousand men simply disappeared. At least 100,000 died of camp diseases; particularly Yankees who died of malaria; particularly the Yankees who had recently immigrated from Germany and Ireland and who were drafted to take the places of prosperous and cowardly men.


Decoration Day began spontaneously in both the North and South – probably in the Spring of 1864, the Spring after Gettysburg – as a day to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. One of the first, verified observances was in Columbus, Mississippi on April 25, 1866 where a group of local women gathered to decorate the graves of the local men who had died at Shiloh. The Confederate dead were buried near an untended patch that held the remains of the despised Yankee dead and the suffering and compassionate women of Columbus decorated the Yankee graves as well.

There were at least 25 Decoration Day observances that Spring. The next year Decoration Day had its own hymn titled “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping.” The year after that the dead were remembered in 183 cemeteries and General John Logan, the head of a Union Veteran’s group called the Grand Army of the Republic, asked his veterans to decorate the final resting places of both the Union and the Confederate dead at Arlington National Cemetery. Logan wrote that the graves should be decorated “with the choicest flowers of springtime.” He told his Northern veterans: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance…. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The name Memorial Day appeared in 1882 and the bitterness between the North and the South continued for almost a century after that.  There are still separate days to honor the Confederate War dead in Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee

Memorial Day became a national holiday and the culmination of a three day weekend in 1971,

And, our nation is still at war. And it seems there will be never be an end to the suffering.


30 Responses to “Memorial Day 2014”

  1. jj solari Says:

    ok, so lets see: we had the civil war, the war the the person commonly referred to as our “greatest” president waged against his own country and countrymen – which would explain why bureaucrats all over america like him so much: we had ww1 the war no one has even today figured out what it was about, forget about why americans were involved in it, which served no other purpose than to make ww2 possible and inevitable; we had ww2 the war that guaranteed that the only useful roads in europe would exist only in germany rather than the entire eastern hemisphere and after which america had no new colonies in europe, and in fact came out of it with nothing; the korean war, the war we fought against china in a place that wasnt china and so that south koreans would never celebrate Thank You, Americans Day because to this day they just cant be bothered; there was the war in vietnam that americans were forced against their will to attend and in which they were not allowed to actually wage normal warfare but rather a day by day body-count sort of casual, hit or miss kind of gay little combat adventure….all for the purpose of losing; and there is the war in persia where we are killing muslims at a slower and more lethal pace to ourselves than the muslims would be accomplishing killing each other if we would just do as they ask and leave them alone to kill each other. which is what they like to do. yep: having civilians as commanders of militaries is really a great idea. it’s certainly working for US. keep that cannon fodder coming Moms of America!

  2. Rebel Says:

    Dear Big Jim, Whittier,

    I also have a tendency to become unreasonable when I hear the phrase, “Happy Memorial Day.”


  3. Mike 184 Says:

    Definitely one of the best of us! You are missed every day. Semper Fi Marine… Hey brother, I know I am a little late, but I will make it!!!

    To all that may or may not have met this man, at a minimum he was champion among marines. He had been htere, done that, got the tee-shirt. High speed low drag for 25 damned years. I think it is a valid post here on this site… Read a bit and you will see. And if for no other reason, he was my friend.

  4. One Eye Says:

    My heartfelt thanks to those who have served and those who serve. God keep our troops.
    This is a short, but very poignant clip.

  5. Dave Says:

    Someone informed me that while this agenda for legalizing criminals and pushing more food at our children is being played out, that our soldiers are being told that they will only get two meals per day due to budget issues. This can’t be true, right?

  6. Big Jim, Whittier Says:

    Very interesting day Monday almost went to jail. Thank you WPD for giving me a break. Yes I was fucked up and was at a BBQ, one that I was way out of place,you know the type. Some Shit Head says “Happy Memorial Day” to me I asked him what the fuck is so happy about it. Are you happy so many have died and pushed him in the pool. Police were called lucky the cop was a fellow vet and had a good laugh. but also said that a different cop might have taken me in. The point I’m making is not about me but for a lot of people it is not a happy day. A shout out to “1st Battalion 9th Marines” The Walking Dead. Semper Fi

  7. Paul Says:

    Thank you Rebel.

  8. RVN69 Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the condolences. Losing any brother is tough, losing this one was personal, he was a close friend, I remember casting my vote for him as a prospect and how proud he was of his patch.


  9. Caretaker Says:

    My condolences on your loss. To those that served,or are serving,thank you. To those we lost I lift a glass. May we all be reunited with our loved ones in the great beyond. Happy memorial day everyone. I’m off to the local vfw post to shake hands,give thanks and give my small contribution of burgers and dogs on the grill.


  10. Docb Says:

    You have my condolences RVN. The circle gets smaller every year

  11. slycechyx Says:

    A toast to all the fallen. Did a huge Memorial ride on Saturday, we rode up to the Military cemetary. I wept when I saw people knealing next to markers. So many flags on too many graves.

    RVN69, truly sorry for the loss of your brother.

  12. Glenn S. Says:

    Happy Memorial Day, y’all. Respect to those who gave some or all. Condolences to the ones they left behind.

  13. Rusty Says:

    RVN69 and unknown others who have lost friends, family, brothers, prayers up and may we never forget.
    Peace & respect to the deserving

  14. RVN69 Says:

    Thanks my friend, just found out a close brother died unexpectedly this morning, tough to take, too many brothers transferring to the Thunder Chapter guess it won’t be too long till we are all back together again lifting a glass in Valhalla.

    I am my brothers keeper.

  15. docb Says:

    @ Not Surprised

    True. They had to carry more than they could lift

  16. docb Says:

    @ RVN69

    Semper Fi

  17. FF Says:

    Something real is dying.

  18. Base Says:

    Not surprised at all by the clueless that know nothing of the meaning of this day of observance.

  19. Not Surprised Says:

    Great write up. Combat vets who managed to survive only to succumb later to suicide from PTSD are no less casualties than if felled by enemy fire.

  20. RVN69 Says:

    I’ve posted this before, but it just seems to stick with me, I quess part of the reason is that if you change just a few words here or there it describes US Warriors from the Minute men to the current generation in Afghanistan and other places we do not know about.

    God bless all those who have gone before us, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

    “They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP-rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.

    They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots.

    They carried the M-16 assault rifle.

    They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine-guns, the M-79 grenade launcher, M-14’s, CAR-15’s, Stoners, Swedish K’s, 66mmLaws, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.

    They carried C-4plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU’s and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.

    They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworm’s and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones – real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love:”Don’t mean nothin’!” They carried memories for the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity.

    Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn’t; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said “Dear God”and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them.

    They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment. They carried the weight of the world.


    Author Unknown.

  21. Road Whore Says:

    Rebel…poignant and truthful; words painful to read for the truths they contain. Good job.

    To those soldiers who lost their lives: I appreciate your sacrifice, and I’m sorry that you had to make it. Condolences to your families through all of the generations of grief and loss.

    To those who have survived: I honor you and respect you and I pray for your well-being. Thank you for your service.


    War, huh yeah
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh
    War huh yeah
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, say it again y’all
    War, huh good God
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, listen to me

    Oh, war, I despise
    ‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
    War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes
    When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives

    I said
    War, huh good God y’all
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, just say it again
    War whoa Lord
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, listen to me
    War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
    War, friend only to the undertaker

    Oh war, is an enemy to all mankind
    The thought of war blows my mind
    War has caused unrest within the younger generation
    Induction, then destruction who wants to die

    War, good God, y’all
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, say it, say it, say it
    War, uh huh, yeah, huh
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, listen to me
    War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
    War, it’s got one friend that’s the undertaker

    Oh, war has shattered many young man’s dreams
    Made him disabled bitter and mean
    Life is much to short and precious to spend fighting wars these days
    War can’t give life it can only take it away, ooh

    War, huh, good God y’all
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, say it again
    War, whoa, Lord
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, listen to me
    War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
    War, friend only to the undertaker

    Peace love and understanding tell me
    Is there no place for them today
    They say we must fight to keep our freedom
    But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way

    War, huh, good God y’all
    What is it good for?
    You tell ’em, say it, say it, say it, say it
    War, good Lord, huh
    What is it good for?
    Stand up and shout it, nothing
    War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker


  22. Thumper Says:

    Take a few moments sit in silence and remember our brothers in arms that were taken from us, the hero’s that gave us our freedom. we love you brothers and we miss you.

    from those who made it back.

  23. jj solari Says:

    ah yes, the civil war, the civil war, let me see, let me see: yes, that was the war that involved the president of the united states declaring war on his own country. he is considered our greatest president by every bureaucrat in america ever since. abraham lincoln the father of american discord. he began a tradition other presidents ever-after have envied but have not surpassed, fighting meaningless wars with other countries, rather than fighting meaningless wars with their own. and we must not forget the result of the civil war and why all those lives were lost: to create the 13th amendment which granted the power of slave ownership only to government, not to private individuals, and made ALL men, not just negroes, eligible.

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    quite an accomplishment and certainly – if anything is worth dying for, establishing universal slavery – AND IN WRITING, MIND YOU – is.

    i guess no one has actually READ the 13th amendment otherwise they would not be quite to chipper about its existence.

  24. Done Says:

    If you’re a Gold Star Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Child, Brother or Sister etc I hope you know that on Memorial Day there are those of us who honor your loved one’s sacrafice. They didn’t lose their lives, they gave them. There is no more honorable way to have dedicated their lives. Likewise, if you had a Club Brother who gave his life for the honor of their Brotherhood they too are deserving of an equal share. To see a buddy killed in combat is beyond my poor ability with words but if that’s you, know that you are not alone, forgotten or in any way to wonder why it wasn’t you. Survivor’s guilt can fester and haunt those who served in combat and the best way I’ve known to deal with it is to share it with anyone who will listen and try to understand. Keeping it shoved as far and as deep inside as you can will only make it worse. There is no loss of honor in tears shared or venting of horrors past. As truly subadaquate as the VA truly is, it’s sometimes a good place to be around those who know as only one who has been there can. Whatever you do, just don’t keep it inside and it’s not a weakness to seek help. War sucks. Every stinking part of it sucks and allowing it to drag you back down once you’re home gives it another chance to do so. There seems to be a lot more Veteran’s Motorcycle Clubs around now than there were before. Back then a lot of the Members were Combat Vets but the Clubs they joined weren’t Specific to Vets, a lot more are now and the bond among them is as tight as it gets in civilian life, seek one out if you ride. It might be just what you’re looking for.

    Memorial Day (as I understand it) is to Honor our War Dead. Veteran’s Day is to Honor Veterans and Armed Forces Day is to Honor those who are in Active or Reserve Service but I don’t blame people who get the difference confused. The thing that still really haunts me is that POW flag. Some people call me crazy but I believe there are still men in North Korea and Viet Nam being held as POW’s and of course there are those who are POW’s from our current Wars. I don’t see our so called government doing very much about that. The recent attention being paid to the VA is nothing new to those of us who’ve tried to get help there but living in a constant state of hate or resentment only hurts the victim twice.

    Love, Loyalty, & Respect to those who gave their lives and all those that they left behind. You are not alone, never give up.

  25. Drifter Says:

    Honoring all those that have sacrificed for the USA…

    Riverside National Cemetery, POW Memorial near the front gate by March…


  26. Rambler Says:

    The hardest part of this weekend is going to the memorials and wishing you were on it with your brothers. Surviving can be a lifetime of hell.

  27. rollinnorth Says:

    Respect, and thank you, to all who served and suffer.

  28. Paladin Says:

    I’ve posted this before and I’ll post it again. Contrary to what many may believe, Memorial Day is NOT a day to pay homage to America’s retailers by partaking in their cheap sales events. Nor is it this Country’s “Backyard Barbecue Day” The commercialization of Memorial Day makes me sick, as does most of what goes on in this Country these days.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  29. Phuquehed Says:

    I’m with Dave…pretty fucking sad when motherfuckers have no clue what it is or why. It’s those fucktards that I wish a horrible, painful weeklong death on and hope they haven’t already procreated.

  30. Dave Says:

    When someone doesn’t know what is being memorialized on Memorial Day, it’s a sad day in our history. Some really stupid fucks out there.

Leave a Reply