Did anyone start a thread about Memorial Day?

Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 10:53 am
I must've missed if they did, so I'll start one.

Mine was spent in Chicago; it was my first visit. What a fabulous city.

Unlike Houston, Chicago has marvelous mass transit and a taxi whenever you need one. I was mightily impressed with the ease of my utilization of the trains, as well as their low cost. (For those of you snickering about my rube-ness, well, I haven't traveled much in the Northeast.)

I met my wife in Lombard as she completed her work week, and spent a lovely afternoon bumping around the Oakbrook Terrace Mall. We went into the city on Friday, staying downtown at the Hilton on Grand. We could walk to just about everything, and did so until my shin splints fired up. We spent Saturday rolling on the River Architecture Tour, then Navy Pier, the Hancock Tower's observation deck, and the Chicago Chop House for dinner.

On Sunday we took a bus tour called "Untouchables"; it was entertaining and drove us past all of the famous gangster landmarks (although most of them were paved over some years ago): the garage where the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurred; the Biograph, where Dillinger ate lead; Little Italy, Chinatown, Cabrini Green. Laughing

Monday we took in the Cubs-Pirates game at Wrigley Field. The captive bald eagle Challenger, from the Last Chance Forever folks (they're from Houston) flew in from center field to the pitcher's mound.

Tuesday we wrapped up with a visit to the Sears Tower.

In between we ate like Roman emperors, listened to some great blues and enjoyed wonderful Midwestern spring weather--highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s, sunny, clear.

I'll hurry back there again soon.

The Albuquerque Gathering looked fun; I hope the one in Texas comes together for the fall.

I found a nice sentiment for Memorial Day written by Bill Moyers. Here it is, along with the link at the end:

"Every Memorial Day I think about what these men did and what we owe them. They didn't go through hell so Kenny Boy Lay could betray his investors and workers at Enron, or for a political system built on legal bribery. It wasn't for corporate tax havens in Bermuda, or an economic system driven by the law of the jungle, or so a handful of media buccaneers could turn the public airwaves into private sewers. Sure, to paraphase Donald Rumsfeld, freedom makes it possible for people to be crooks, but so does communism, and fascism, and monarchy. Democracy is about doing better.

It's about fairness, justice, human rights, and yes, it's about equality, too; look it up.

I was never called on to do what soldiers do; I'll never know if I might have had their courage. But a journalist can help keep the record straight, on their behalf. They thought democracy was worth fighting for, even dying for. The least we can do is to help make democracy worthy of them."

Bill Moyers on being a journalist
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Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 12:20 pm
Little known:

The first memorial service for the dead of the Civil War was held at Woodlawn cemetary on the east side of Carbondale, Illinois, on April 29, 1866. Joe Johnston had surrendered on April 29, 1865, in Durham, North Carolina--and that date marked the end of the war for the veterans of the conflict. There are Illinois Confederates buried in that cemetary, but, with no "Daughters of the Confederacy," the graves have not been kept up. I last saw them in 1984, and if you didn't know where to look, you'd never have found them. The ceremony in 1866 was organized by John A. Logan, who had risen to the rank of Major General of United States Volunteers during the war. He had been an important member of the Illinois delegation in the House, and people were apprehensive about his politics in 1861, since it was well know that the majority of men in Southern Illinois would follow his lead. It was generally accepted that he would come down on the side of the Confederacy, and lead thousands of loyal "Little Egypt" followers into the south. To the surprise of most in Illinois, he remained loyal, and organized the 31st Illinois Volunteers, who served with honor and distinction throughout the war. Logan organized the memorial service to honor those Americans from Illinois who had died in the war, without regard to which side they had joined, to help heal the wounds of the war, which were very noticeable in such border regions (the southern point of Southern Illinois is almost as far south and the Virginia-North Carolina border).

Later, when Logan was the Commandant of the Grand Army of the Republic (the Civil War version of the American Legion), he presided over the first official Memorial Day in 1888, in Petersburg, Virginia.
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Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 02:06 pm
Thanks for that, Set.

When I was in Harrisburg, PA last month I visited the National Civil War Museum, and at the end they have a marvelous video of the last reunion of Civil War veterans at Gettysburg. FDR spoke at it.

The pictures of those old fellows--white-bearded and cupping their hands to their ears to hear--struck me greatly.

The last surviving warriors of the battle that tore the nation asunder, sitting together over tables eating barbecue and perhaps wishing they could go overseas to fight the Krauts (sorry, Walter Hinteler and others). Of course, the freedom they fought for was a good bit different than that which we claim to start wars for today (and that goes for both Blue and Grey). They each made the appropriate rationalization that what they were fighting for was right, and righteous (read the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) and then charged the rampart.

Won't it be grand when we can stop doing that.

'That' being the killing and the maiming and the monuments to the fallen and the reunions and the re-enactments glorifying the process for the children all over again.

Once we succeed in removing the glory surrounding war, we will perhaps be a step down the road toward warring no more.

Memorial Day will acquire fresh resonance on that day.
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