On this day of remembrance, I am reminded of yet another day and of the words then spoken.

 

” … Memorial Day may and ought to have a meaning also for those who do not share our memories. When men have instinctively agreed to celebrate an anniversary, it will be found that there is some thought of feeling behind it which is too large to be dependent upon associations alone.

The Fourth of July, for instance, has still its serious aspect, although we no longer should think of rejoicing like children that we have escaped from an outgrown control, although we have achieved not only our national but our moral independence and know it far too profoundly to make a talk about it, and although an Englishman can join in the celebration without a scruple. For, stripped of the temporary associations which gives rise to it, it is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.

But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead.

For one hour, twice a year at least–at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves–the dead come back and live with us.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

“In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched With Fire”

[An address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH, before John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic.]

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