Page images


Throughout the North and West the festival is very generally celebrated on the 30th of May. But April 26th is observed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May ioth in North and South Carolina; May 30th in Virginia ; and June 3d in Louisiana.

Decoration Day, the earlier name of the festival, was soon felt to be too superficial to express the pro-, found ideas and emotions to which the occasion is dedicated, just as we now feel that Arbor Day is a name quite inadequate for the holiday devoted to the great principle of conservation. But, unlike the name of the latter, Decoration Day was felicitously changed to Memorial Day.

This festival, says an unknown writer in the Illustrated American for June 21, 1890, “is not merely a holiday in the modern acceptation of the word, it realizes its etymological significance as a holy day. It is our All Saints' Day, sacred to the memory of the glorified dead who consecrated themselves to their country, were baptized in blood, were beatified and canonized as martyrs for the right. It is well that, in the hurry and press of our times, when the higher soul within us is choked and stifled by the more sordid cares of the hour, by the selfish struggle for place and pelf, we should pause for a period to dwell upon the memory of the illustrious dead who gave their lives for their country, and who typify that higher and truer Americanism which lies within us still, dormant and latent indeed, yet ready to spring again to the surface whenever the needs of the country issue a new call to arms. It is well that we should do them honor which honors ourselves in the doing. But it is well, also, that we should

remember what was their true mission and their higher success: that they fought not through enmity to a gallant and mistaken foe, but through love for the Union, which recognized no North and no South. That Union they have restored, and union means peace, harmony, mutual good will. If they had merely pinned together with bayonets the two divided sections of the country, they had fought and bled and fallen in vain. Northern hatred for the South, Southern hatred for the North, is disloyalty, is treason indeed to the Union which they re-established. A few political ‘leaders '—' leaders' who are far in the rear of public sentiment—have sought to make political capital out of the fact that Southerners cherish the memory of the heroes who fought on their side, and have raised statues to commemorate them. But we who remember with pride the achievements of our soldiers are proud to acknowledge that they had foemen worthy of their steel, and that a common country gave birth to both. The arbitrament of the sword has settled forever the questions over which no other tribunal had jurisdiction, and the nation went through the throes of a civil war for the benefit of North and South alike.”'

To many of us this reunion seems to symbolize the sublime side of the Anglo-Saxon nature and yearly to renew our faith that after our next great internecine strife is over, when capital and labor have once and for all locked arms in their perhaps inevitable struggle, America may vindicate her inherent nobility then as now in

“Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.”



« EelmineJätka »