Knowing Your Place in History

“We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.” Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863

 If Barack Obama doesn’t want to perform the simplest duties as President of the United States, why doesn’t he just quit? The Associated Press reported yesterday that our commander-in-thief will be skipping the wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day to vacation in Chicago, instead.

Funny, he didn’t mind decorating himself with laurel leaves during the campaign.

If he really feels that way about the duties of his job, we’ll happily accept his resignation. He’s certainly given every indication that the United States of America isn’t his kind of country. He disapproves of the Constitution. He pillories states that try to enforce the laws of the land. He hasn’t held a press conference since last summer, refusing to answer the questions even of a docile, supportive news media.

If my poll numbers were in the low Forties, I wouldn’t want to answer any questions about terrorist guys, gushing oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico, or drug-dealing illegal immigrants, either.

He bows to foreign potentates. He wants to redistribute our wealth, tell us what to eat, what to say, and what to think. Does that sound to you like someone who enjoys being President of the United States of America? I didn’t think so; me, either. So we’ll understand if he wants to turn in his title and his laurel leaves. Let’s give the guy a break; I’ll even volunteer to help him write the letter of resignation.

 Oh, he wants to be president. The top dog. Just not of the United States of America. Since he can’t run for an office in another country, he’s stuck with this one. So he’s reshaping it, transforming it to his own liking, like a diva “transforming” the Star Spangled Banner into an unrecognizable hodge-podge of melismas, runs, trills and wrong notes. 

Some Liberal a long time ago (I can’t remember who or when), said they hoped one day that Memorial Day would become an obsolete holiday; that with the end of all wars, there would be no need to memorialize dead soldiers.

Well, you know, the trouble is, dead is forever. Once our soldiers in uniform made that sacrifice, there was no taking it back. Jesus will return on Judgment Day and all souls will answer to His call. He’s the only one who can bring the dead back to life. Until that day, it behooves every patriotic American to remember this solemn occasion.

It’s not supposed to be a holiday, as in “Let’s Party!” Until Congress enacted the Monday Holidays law in the 1960s, it wasn’t. Yes, people celebrated Memorial Day weekend as the beginning of summer. It’s the holiday when the white shoes and bags come out of the closet.

Originally called Decoration Day, it was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War. Memorial Day was expanded after World War I, when we went on having more wars. The First Decoration Day was held in Charleston, S.C., at a racetrack that had been converted into a cemetery for Union soldiers. Former slaves exhumed the bodies from their mass graves and reburied them properly in individual graves, according to a Yale Historian.

On May 1, 1865, a Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2,800 children, went in procession to the location for a celebration which included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day. The first official observance was in Waterloo, N.Y., on May 5, 1866.

Maybe now Obama would like to rethink his vacation plans? It’s very nice that he wants to honor Abraham Lincoln, a courageous president who put his political career and his life on the line to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But if he could speak, he’d probably tell Obama to do his duty and lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

Or if he really wants an historical holiday where he can give his daughters a history lesson (he could use a few lessons in American history himself), go to Gettysburg, the most famous of the Civil War cemeteries. Let him walk on a few Union graves and then tell us they didn’t die so he could one day become president of the United States.

Many Southern states refused to celebrate Decoration Day, due to unabated hostility towards the Union Army and also because relatively few Union Army soldiers were buried in the South. In 1882, the alternative name of “Memorial Day” was first suggested, though it did not come into common usage until after World War II.

No one really knows why the date of May 30th was selected, except that there were no battles scheduled on that date. But that date now is pretty much lost to history anyway, thanks to the Congressional act of 1968, declaring Monday holidays. Without an actual date and advertising circulars, no one would remember exactly when Memorial Day is.

Guess Obama figures it’s just an arbitrary, made-up holiday (like Kwanzaa?), so why bother? History isn’t exactly his strong-suit.

Evidently, it’s a date our Commander-in-Chief would just as soon forget and not be bothered with. He’s chosen to “celebrate” at a more convenient location near Chicago. He and Michelle can get a little shopping in, maybe a little golf. He can forget for a few days that he’s President of the United States.

One group that won’t forget May 30th is my band. It’s the birth date of our band. We were formed on May 30, 1884 – Memorial Day. We’ll be out on the street parading, our trumpet-player performing  Taps at the cemetery, as we have for the last 126 years.

The original members of the band have long since gone to that Great Bandstand in the Sky. Our uniforms are different. Our instruments are somewhat different. Our musicians – in some cases – are different. Others are related to the original members. They’re not so different.

Only one member has something like an 1880’s mustache. We have women on the band now. When not in uniform, our members wear jeans and tee shirts, or suits. They jet off to meetings in Europe and Asia. They have laptops, cell phones, and I-Pods.

But aside from the technological changes and variations in fashions, they’re still Americans. They know their history and know why we march down the street every Memorial Day. Because of the unbroken link in our band’s history, we still retain that tie to that first, distant Memorial Day when our band honored those who gave their lives for freedom.

Unlike the President of the United States, no matter what else we do that weekend, on Memorial Day morning, our band knows its duty and its place, on Monday, on Memorial Day, and in history.

Where will you be on Memorial Day?

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Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 7:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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