Decoration Day

May 26, 2008 | 10 comments
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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

New Mexico’s names:
Santa Fe National Cemetery
Civil War (partial)
Spanish-American (partial)
World War II
Korea
Vietnam

If you have more information, please post it in comments

Past posts:
Memorial Day
How perfect a union?, by Ben Huff.
Remembering what Grandpa Greenwood remembered, by Adam Greenwood

10 Responses to Decoration Day

  1. Dave on May 26, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Fitting thoughts for a Memorial Day, Adam. Today two candidates are in New Mexico speaking to veterans. Senator McCain, a war hero and “brave man … who struggled,” standing for office at a time when Americans are overseas fighting; and Senator Obama, an African American with the charisma of JFK, whose candidacy lends credibility to the claim that, politically at least, in the America of 2008 “all men are created equal.” Senator Clinton’s candidacy likewise advances that claim and broadens the term “men” to its more generic sense. Let’s hope, whatever the outcome of this year of messy politics, it leads to “a new birth of freedom.”

  2. Bill MacKinnon on May 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Adam, I read with interest your Memorial Day 2004 post in honor of your grandfather and his unidentified friend, who died while disembarking for the assault on Okinawa in the spring of 1945. You can probably determine the name of that friend by checking the records of your father’s unit for that phase of the campaign. The likelihood is that friends that close would have been in the same platoon, so, if you know your grandfather’s division, regiment, company and platoon identifiers, and the date he went ashore, there’s a good chance that the National Archives can provide you with the list of men from that platoon who were lost and their manner of death, which would lead you to that identity. There’s also a high likelihood that NARA has photos of the people in that company, which may include images of your grandfather and his pal. Then there’s the regimental history that was probably written after WWII; that may well describe the loss of men during the disembarkation for the landing. (My late uncle’s battalion history — now on-line — provided a fairly detailed account of his landing in Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944); that, a few brief anecdotes delivered verbally over the years, and the citation for his Silver Star provide the only information that the family has about his experiences that day.) If you were to e-mail the American Legion or VFW with the data about your grandfather’s unit, those organizations should be able to direct you to whomever has been organizing the periodic reunions of that division/regiment’s survivors, information which, in turn, may lead you to men still living who knew your grandfather and/or his unidentified friend.

  3. Naismith on May 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Let’s update this with the reality that women also gave their lives for our freedom.

    http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/lives.html

    [Ed.--if I've missed any New Mexicans, let me know]

  4. Ray on May 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    This means a lot to me, Adam. Thanks for posting it.

  5. Travis on May 26, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Very moving. Adam, thank you for posting this. There are times I find myself cynical and frustrated at our politicians who speak so eloquently and use their considerable rhetorical skill to build a following. But there are also times, like today reading this post, that remind me of the very useful and positive effect that our political leaders’ words can have. Lincoln’s words strike me like that. They inspire in a way that isn’t glib or designed to be broken down into sound bites for the 5:00 news.

  6. Eric Boysen on May 27, 2008 at 3:43 am

    Every year on Memorial Day I make it a point to read McCrea’s “In Flanders Fields” and Owen’s “Dulche et Decorum Est” reflecting on the tensions between the conflicting truths that these two World War I poets present on death in war. I believe them both and am persuaded by neither. It’s just a nasty business.

  7. Raymond Takashi Swenson on May 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Lincoln’s words should remind us also that many people in the North did not support his view that a massive war, one of the first that depended on manufacturing and rapid transportation by railroads, was justified by the secession of the Confederacy. From the perspective of the time, the suffering and sacrifice on both sides was immense, and the goal of preserving the Union and the freedom protected by its Constitution may have seemed insubstantial to many.

    But looking back from almost 150 years in Lincoln’s future, we can realize that allowing the Confederacy to secede would have led to more secession in turn, breaking the United States into several smaller, weaker nations that may not have had the unity and strength and foresight to defeat the Axis imperialism of World War II and then the totalitarian tyranny of the Soviet Union a generation later. An attack on the Hawaiian territory of the Republic of California would not have put New York and Ohio at war with Nazi Germany. If Europe and Asia were dominated by empires, the Third World would still be governed as colonies of those empires. Literally billions of people might not have freedom today if Lincoln had not preserved the Union.

    So let us strive to have a long term perspective on the sacrifices we as individuals, families, communities and a nation make now.

  8. Adam Greenwood on May 27, 2008 at 2:55 pm
  9. Aaron C. on May 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    We had a family reunion this weekend and went to a few cemetaries on Monday. It was such a humbling experience to see all the flags on the veterans’ grave stones and all the families walking the ground in search of their relatives.

  10. John L Robinson on May 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    \”But looking back from almost 150 years in Lincoln’s future, we can realize that allowing the Confederacy to secede would have led to more secession in turn, breaking the United States into several smaller, weaker nations that may not have had the unity and strength and foresight to defeat the Axis imperialism of World War II and then the totalitarian tyranny of the Soviet Union a generation later.\”

    If there had been no USA, Germany would not have been beaten as badly, or beaten at all, in WW1. No massive defeat of Germany in WW1= no Nazis, and no WW2.

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