This weekend in the United States we honor those individuals who have given their lives in the defense of freedom around the world. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. This was in the aftermath of the Civil War when our nation was divided by the issue of slavery and many thousands had lost their lives fighting for what they believed. It has taken a long time for our nation to heal from this devastating division and massive loss of life. Memorial Day is not about division but reconciliation, coming together as a nation to honor those who gave their all for our country.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. (Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865)