South Mountain by Rick Reeve

South Mountain by Rick Reeve
South Mountain by Rick Reeve depicting the wounding of General Garland

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead"

On this Memorial Day weekend, I invite everyone to take a few moments to reflect on what it means to be free. On both our soil and foreign, our men and women have laid down their lives so that we may be able to enjoy the freedoms that today enjoy. I feel this way because just last month, I was on a class field trip and towards the end, we went on a tour of Civil War monuments within Arlington National Cemetery. AS we concluded, we headed over to the area where the dead of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried. While there, my class acted quite disrespectful to the point where my fiance and I decided against joining my classmates who were at the grave of a former Shepherd University student. While we were waiting for them to return, we noticed a marine walking among the headstones kneeling at one here and another there. It was a sight that broke my heart. He would kneel, spend a few moments, rise up and give one final salute to a fallen comrade. My fiance and I remained at a distance while he was moving about and after awhile of doing this, the marine turned to leave. As passed us, he looked over at us and the sadness on his face was quite difficult to bear. I wish I could have told him 'thank you' for his service and sacrifice because he was there honoring his fallen friends and I could not personally thank those that made, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, " their last full measure of devotion". Thank You to all you service men who are serving our country and to those of you above, thank you for giving your precious lifes blood so that I can sit here and type this up. I'll close with an excerpt from "The Bivouac of the Dead" by Theodore O'Hara.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

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