Editorial: ‘The cost of a free and undivided republic’
Monday is a special day. It is a day for all Americans to reflect upon the freedoms we hold dear, and remember those who have sacrificed everything to make it possible.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, after an entire generation had been nearly wiped away by the bloody fighting of Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh and countless other engagements, both large and small, Gen. John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, formally put into motion what is today called Memorial Day.
But his 1868 order only served to put on paper what had already been happening throughout this newly reunited nation. In what was a natural reaction to the loss of a generation, Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line sought to honor their fallen sons, brothers and fathers—decorating their graves and honoring their memories.
As we prepare to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this tragic and defining event in our nation’s history, it is only fitting we consider the words of Gen. Logan in his General Order No. 11:
"We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
"If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
"Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan."