In tribute of the heroes who died serving their country

by Carol Shirk Knapp
| May 20, 2020 1:00 AM

Pick your favorite Memorial Day quote:

“Home of the free because of the brave.” Unknown

“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust, their courage nerves a thousand living men.” Savage

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Campbell

“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” Unknown

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” Patton

“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” MacArthur

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” Franklin Roosevelt

“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion.” Coolidge

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” Stevenson ll

“Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” Obama

“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” Keller

What can a person add to this wisdom? Not much. We, in today’s world, would include women among the fallen heroes. And it was men, women, and children in Charleston, South Carolina — who in 1865 took part in the first recorded Memorial Day commemoration.

The Confederate army toward the end of the Civil War had turned a country club’s racetrack into an open-air prison. Over 260 Union soldiers died there — their bodies buried in a mass grave behind the grandstands. After Confederate troops abandoned the city freed slaves wanted an honorable burial for the soldiers. They exhumed the bodies and reburied them in a new cemetery. On the tall whitewashed fence surrounding it was inscribed, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

A crowd of 10,000 — mostly emancipated people — on May 1,1865 held a parade around the racetrack. Black Union regiments performed double-time marches. Three thousand children carried bouquets of flowers and sang. Black preachers read verses from the Bible.

These were a grateful people. They let it be known in the backbreaking and heartbreaking job of reburying hundreds of soldiers. In song and celebration. In acknowledgment to God.

Would that we had some of their quotes to consider on this Memorial Day 2020.