Tag Archives: soldiers

Observing Confederate Veterans Day

Confederate veterans

The South Endures on Confederate Veterans Day

The War Between the States ended over one hundred forty years ago, but the legacy of its history lives on to this day. The flag of the Confederacy still flies over many homes, businesses and public properties everywhere, a testament to Southern pride and loyalty.

Various southern states have long been in favor of proclaiming a Confederate Veterans Day in honor of the soldiers, leaders and political figures who supported Southern rights during that long, bloody war, though the tradition has not caught on in great numbers. Even if the day is not declared a national holiday, there are a vast number of Southern political figures and supporters that would like, at the very least, for school children to learn about the military figures and political leaders of the south during that difficult period of American history. Today, honoring such veterans is also commonly known as Confederate Memorial Day, and is observed at different times in various southern states, depending on the veteran or southern political leader who happens to hail from each particular state.

During the years leading up to the Civil War, the country endured growing pains. After all, the United States was less than one hundred years old. States’ rights conflicted with federal beliefs and regulations, which ultimately brought the country to the brink of a crucial test. While the issue of slavery and the right to own slaves was at the basis of the disagreement that eventually split the United States in half, issues of states’ rights to govern themselves without interference of the federal government was also put to the test.

The Civil War broke out in 1861 and ended in 1865, after losses of vast numbers of men who fought for both the North and the South. It has long been accepted, and understood, that both Northern and Southern points of view are an important lesson for Americans to remember. America was founded on individual and national freedom, and for all Americans, the right to choose is a time honored tradition and way of life. Many great leaders came from the South, a testament that their Northern brothers could well attest to. Many generals enjoyed long and close relationships before the tensions of war forced them to choose sides and represent their native states.

In the Southern states, Confederate Veteran’s Day is a day when Johnny Reb’s are honored and saluted for their devotion and loyalty to the Southern Cause. While the harsh feelings brought about the war slowly mended over generations, Southerners still feel an immense sense of pride in their soldiers and honor their memory on this day. Flowers and small Confederate flags are placed on the graves of Civil War veterans and local events serve to keep their memory alive. Though the day is not considered a national holiday, Southerners nevertheless observe the day in their own way, which they have been doing since 1865.

The War Between the States was a difficult time for all Americans who were forced to choose between loyalty to their state or allowing a federal government to determine the course of their future. The history of issues that culminated in the War Between the States is long and complicated, but one thing is for certain. Every soldier who fought in that war, for North or South, considered himself or herself an American.

The memory of those who dared to fight, and die, for what they believed in, is strongly honored in the South to this day. Confederate Veterans Day is meant to serve as a reminder that all Americans, despite beliefs or heritage, deserve the right to have a say in how they are governed.

Honoring the Fallen on Memorial Day

Remembering the men and women, soldiers and civilians, who have died while defending the United States has been a tradition in America since 1863, following the death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers during the War Between the States. Back then, the day of recognition was called Decoration Day, because flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers from both North and South. Started by women, some the wives of government representatives, others within local communities, the tradition became a yearly one.

The idea of recognizing a day to honor fallen soldiers is believed to have begun with a woman named Miss Emma Hunter of Pennsylvania, who appeared at her father’s tomb with flowers in 1864. There, she also met another woman bearing flowers to the grave of her son. The two women agreed to meet the same day the following year in order to again place flowers on their graves, and so Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, is credited with originating Memorial Day. Another legend tells of the creation of Memorial Day taking place as women from Columbus, Mississippi placed flowers upon the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers in 1866.

In 1865, a suggestion was made to the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic for citizens around the country to be able to have access to soldier’s graves on the last day of May for the purpose of “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.” Shortly thereafter, ceremonies were held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, directly across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., where they continue to this day. Though Memorial Day was not officially designated a national holiday until the late 1870’s, observers from towns and cities across the United States observed, recognized and honored veterans of all wars the last day in May. In 1873, New York was the first state in America to officially declare May 30th a legal holiday.

Navy personnel and families created small boats made of flowers and set them afloat at ports on both American coasts to that the tides would carry the flowers out to sea in the hopes that they would eventually find those who had been buried or lost at sea. Towns everywhere celebrate the day with red, white and blue streamers, parades, speeches and events designed to commemorate the sacrifices and loyalty of soldiers, both men and women, who have lost their lives in the continued pursuit of freedom and democracy. Flags, normally raised in front of all government and school buildings, are also raised in front of homes. Cemeteries around the country are decorated with thousands of little flags placed at the headstones of veterans. Military ceremonies performed throughout the country offer cannon and gun salutes to those who have given their all for their country. The playing of Taps in cemetery ceremonies around the nation brings tears to thousands of eyes every year, while white crosses decorated with red poppies or carnations remind all Americans that freedom is neither free nor to be taken for granted.

Schools around the country celebrate Memorial Day with crafts and classroom assignments that ensure that soldier’s contributions to freedom never be forgotten, and many veterans visit classrooms and auditoriums around the country, telling of their experiences during various battles and wars. The Pledge of Allegiance became a daily requirement for American children in schools around the country, serving as a reminder of what it means to be a citizen of one of the greatest countries in the world.

Memorial Day is one of America’s most honored holidays, when all military personnel are recognized and appreciated for their sacrifices and dedication to preserving the ideals of freedom and democracy not only within the United States of America, but around the globe.