Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Southern Memorial Day

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
by:Moina Michael

 Buxton Reives Conerly, Quitman Guards, Company E, 16th Mississippi Regiment
born to Owen Conerly and Louisa Stephens, Mississippi  
One of the thirty survivors of Fort Gregg
Civil War
"General Harris evacuated Fort Alexander about the time 
we were surrounded, and made his way to the rest of the 
army, in the retreat to Appomattox C. H. The men of our 
brigade left on the lines between the Appomattox and the 
James also were in the retreat and the final surrender at Appomattox. 

 Our brave Lieutenant Colonel Duncan was left in Fort 
Gregg, wounded in the head, in an unconscious condition, 
rolling in the blood of his fallen comrades, when we were 
marched out. 

Our bullet-ridden flag that had been borne proudly on so 
many victorious fields bad been planted on its last rampart, 
waved its last defiance, and gone down on the bodies and 
laved in the blood of its brave followers and defenders, who 
here made a chapter for the story of the Army of Northern 
Virginia and left a gem for their mother State to place in the 
crown of her soldiers who had responded to her call to 
arms and faithfully performed their last duty."
To many Memorial Day weekend is just another three day weekend. They barbeque, picnic, camp, play sports, and watch the races on television  However, there are those that take a moment to remember the day and reflect on the many men and women that sacrificed their very lives for us.

Here in the south we like to say that we started it all, Memorial Day that is. Columbus, MS claims to be the birthplace of Decoration Day. On April 25, 1866 women began laying wreaths on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers to commemorate their sacrifice. Before long Decoration Day spread out beyond Columbus, MS and became known as Memorial Day.

Gettysburg National Park held large ceremonies from 1868 on and was home to the 50th reunion of the bloodiest battle in the war. They held a parade and reenactments, and solemnized the day with speeches in remembrance.

In my family it is a day to remember Great Uncle Ward Saucier who did not come home from WWII, and is buried far away in Italy. To remember the sacrifices of my Grandfather's brother Edward Ladner who was never the same after the Battle of the Bulge. To sit and read the writings of Great great Uncle Buxton R. Conerly, and his brother my Great great grandfather Luke Ward Conerly on the 16th Infantry in the Civil War. To go down to the cemetery and place a flag and flowers on my husband's grandfather's grave,  Francis Ladner. To sit back and look around at how many flags are flapping in the breeze on this day and to say a quiet Thank you to them all.
  The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)
By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
    Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the one, the Blue,
            Under the other, the Gray
These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day
        Under the laurel, the Blue,
            Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
    Alike for the friend and the foe;
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day;
        Under the roses, the Blue,
            Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Broidered with gold, the Blue,
            Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
    On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment -day,
        Wet with the rain, the Blue
            Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the blossoms, the Blue,
            Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day,
        Love and tears for the Blue,
            Tears and love for the Gray.

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