On Monday, May 27, America will observe its 151st annual Memorial Day. This tradition stems from the greatest internal strife this nation has ever known, its one and only “War Between The States.”

On July 17, 1862, President Lincoln signed legislation establishing that the president of the United States shall have the power “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed to be used as a national cemetery.”

It was six years later, on May 5, 1868 that General John A. Logan, then commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11. It established May 30 as a day to garnish the graves of the nation’s fallen with flowers.

Arlington, once the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, already held the remains of over 20,000 Union dead and 400 Confederate dead. All the graves, on that first Memorial Day, were adorned.

In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform National Holiday Observance Law, creating Mondays as the day to observe national holidays. Memorial Day is observed the last Monday of May. Our country now adorns American military personnel grave sites with a small American flag. All such grave sites in private, public or national cemeteries, should be adorned in a similar fashion.

We also hold special ceremonies, parades and gatherings to honor all who have sacrificed their life in the service of our Country, during both war and peace.

On Memorial Day, we salute those who paid this ultimate price — men and women, white, black, Hispanic, American Indian and all ethnic heritages — in answering the call to arms. They did so, as a tombstone in Arlington says, “not for fame or reward, not for place or rank, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men and women suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all and died.”

Each and everyone bled red blood, the same red as in our nation’s flag!

The traditions of Memorial Day can be traced back nearly 25 centuries, to 436 B.C., when the Athenian leader, Pericles, offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War. His eulogy then holds true today: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven, not in stone, but in the hearts of men.”

Each and every one we honor on Memorial Day is “engraved in our hearts.” As the ultimate tribute to all we honor on Memorial Day, let us live by the now famous words of President Lincoln: “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they have thus far so nobly advanced.”

Let us all take that quote to heart and ensure our nation preserves for all future generations.

The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial will hold a Memorial Day Program at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, at Black Shoals Park in Conyers.

Keynote speaker will be Martha Zoller, current director of State Field Offices for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a talk show host from 1994-2014, and a panelist on FOX 5 Atlanta’s The Georgia Gang from 2000-10.

The program will include the presentation of colors by the Rockdale County Fire Rescue Honor Guard, recognition of veterans, a presentation of wreaths by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the United Veterans of the Civil War, and the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance and VFW Post 5290, and Taps by Jason Smith, director of bands at Newton High School.

Everyone is encouraged to attend. The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial is located at Black Shoals Park, 3001 Black Shoals Road NE in Conyers.

Tommy Clack

President

Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial

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