Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 24, 2013

JACKIE DAVIS: Honoring the Heroes of Memorial Day

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine!”

— America, the Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates, 1913

These are the lyrics to the third verse of one of our most beautiful patriotic songs. Through the decades, many U.S. citizens have expressed the feeling that “America the Beautiful” should be our “second” national anthem because of its imagery and patriotism.

I was particularly touched by the words of the third verse as I was planning the songs for our church this Memorial Day weekend. I am reminded of what it means to be a hero in service of one’s country.

Memorial Day, is not just a day for parties and picnics. It’s a day of remembrance for those men and women who gave their lives while serving in all branches of the U.S. armed forces. In my heart, these are the ultimate heroes of patriotism. 

It was originally called Decoration Day and was established to honor both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. According to usmemorialday.org, General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, first officially proclaimed Memorial Day in 1868. It was originally observed on May 30, and flowers were placed on the graves of Civil War soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1873, New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday.

The complete origins of Memorial Day are varied, with dozens of cities and towns laying claim to its beginnings. In truth, so many Americans had died during the Civil war, that prior to General Logan’s proclamation, numerous towns and villages across the nation had already begun to hold ceremonies and services to honor the fallen war heroes.

The establishment of an official day of remembrance spoke to this national need to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice of life. Memorial Day observances eventually grew during the 20th century to honor all Americans who died in military service, and flags are placed on the graves of each veteran to this day.

As the proud sister of Army Major Michael E. Johnson and Navy Chief William E. Johnson Jr. (retired) I believe it is very important to acknowledge those living military heroes among us while honoring those who have fallen. Without them, our nation could not exist in the safety and freedom it now enjoys.

We don’t have a perfect nation, but we do have a wonderful one, and I pray we will continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty — now and always. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” — Psalm 33:12

I’ll close with the 4th verse of our national anthem, and wish everyone a happy Memorial Day!

“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

— The Star Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key, 1814

Jackie Davis is an Inspirational Vocalist, Musician and Speaker with over twenty years of television broadcast experience. Her column appears on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month. You can contact her at jjd.22344@yahoo.com.

Jackie Davis is an Inspirational Vocalist, Musician and Speaker with over twenty years of television broadcast experience. Her column appears on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month. You can contact her at jjd.22344@yahoo.com.