Thursday, May 10, 2007

Confederate Memorial Day

Today is Confederate Memorial Day in North and South Carolina. It is the anniversary of the death of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.

Memorial Day as we know it began in April 1866 when US General John A. Logan, commanding occupying forces in the South, noticed Southern women decorating the graves of fallen Southern soldiers in Columbus, Mississippi, at the Shiloh battlefield. He was outraged.

Logan then ordered his department the next May 30 to observe a memorial service for fallen federal soldiers. In 1868 at Arlington Cemetery, the home that the US government stole from Robert E. Lee, President Ulysses S. Grant observed the first large memorial day exercise for the United States on May 30 each year. The tradition has continued.

Ode: Sung on the Occasion of Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, S.C., 1867

by Henry Timrod

Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause;

Though yet no marble column craves

The pilgrim here to pause

In seeds of laurel in the earth

The blossom of your fame is blown,

And somewhere, waiting for its birth,

The shaft is in the stone!

Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years

Which kept in trust your storied tombs,

Behold! your sisters bring their tears,

And these memorial blooms

Small tributes! but your shades will smile

More proudly on these wreaths to-day,

Than when some cannon-moulded pile

Shall overlook this bay.

Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!

There is no holier spot of ground

Than where defeated valour lies,

By mourning beauty crowned.