Memorial Day: speech from first Memorial Day resonates today

“Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, began shortly after the Civil War.  General John A. Logan, a leader of Northern veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance, and May 30, 1868 was designated “for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.”

James Garfield, a politician and former Union general, spoke on the first Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery. Almost 150 years later, his message about the cost of our liberty, the sanctity of our institutions and the importance of national unity seems intended for our divisive times.

Garfield was not only a war hero and statesman, but a minister, college president and professor who had taught Greek, Latin and literature.  His oratorical skills have long been forgotten, but his words commemorating the fallen should not be lost.

He asserted that they died in defense of

“the old American principle that all owe due submission and obedience to the lawfully expressed will of the majority. This is not one of the doctrines of our political system — it is the system itself. It is our political firmament, in which all other truths are set, as stars in Heaven. … Its overthrow would have brought such ruin as might follow in the physical universe, if the power of gravitation were destroyed.”  

According to Garfield, the Civil War began in a dispute over the results of an election — an insight worth remembering as we approach Memorial Day 2017…”

This article was originally published via Fox News. You can read the full op-ed here.

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