Intro: First “Memorial Day”- spring 1865. May 30, 1868 was declared “Decoration Day”…honor graves of our brave. In 1971, Congress moved date to last Monday in May- not popular- critics note detraction from seriousness of occasion, for a 3 day holiday! Since 1950’s, a pres. Vp has made a speech and placed wreath at tomb of unknown soldier. The Civil War marked the most horrific event in America’s history. Our boys fighting and killing OUR BOYS! On Nov 19, 1863, cold and damp, a piece of land was dedicated to those boys who fought in one of the fiercest battles- only 2400 people lived in Gettysburg, PA…but 75000 Conf. and 97000 Union fought for 3 days, with 51000 casualties. The greatest president of our nation was invited to speak:
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow –this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what WE SAY here, but it can never forget what THEY DID here. It is for us the living , rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain….that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…and that government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the earth.”
On August 12, 1862, my great grandfather enlisted in the Union Army; I hold his original honorable discharge papers dated June 4, 1865. I have a very personal stake in America’s freedom! This nation has survived till now, but today, we here are, as they were then, being mightily tested to see if WE have the courage and dedication and sacrifice to keep America free! You men and women of the United States Marshall Service here today, along with numerous law enforcement personnel in San Antonio and around the country stand on the front lines to serve bravely and honorably toward that end. We in the Optimist Club of San Antonio present before you, do not need a special day or week to honor you good people. We along with thousands of other citizens in this city and around our nation, pray for you and your families regularly, and by our observance of the laws of this city, state and nation, we honor and respect you dedicated and brave members of our law enforcement EVERY day of EVERY week of EVERY year! THANK YOU for your honorable service….God bless each and every one of you, and may God bless America!