As long as grass grows…..


Memorial day, originally called Decoration day, has its roots in the 1800’s following the Civil War. Many different cities and towns lay claim to to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. Womens groups in the South were decorating graves with flowers before the end of the Civil War. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed May 30 as Memorial day in his General order No. 11. Most calendars today will still designate May 30 as Memorial day, but it’s celebrated on the last Monday of the month to create a long holiday weekend. Interestingly, the South refused to acknowledge the designated day in the General Order. They honored their dead on a different day until World War I changed the holiday from honoring Civil war dead to honoring Americans who died in any war. It was also World War I that reinforced the “decorating” with flowers idea. Inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ Moina Michaels penned her own remembrance: “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.” Red poppies were purchased and worn on Memorial day to honor those who died.

The City of Grand Rapids Michigan has a beautiful Civil War Monument. It stands tall above the bustling traffic near the corner of Fulton and Division. It was the first Civil War monument to include a fountain which runs today. The original dedication was on September 17, 1885. At that dedication service the star of the show and guest of honor was the famed General Philip Sheridan. General Sheridan died a few years after that dedication service, but the words of speaker Major C.W. Watkins of the 10th Michigan Cavalry lives today……”As long as the grass grows and the water runs, the deeds of the soldiers will be kept fresh and green in the hearts of people.” I sat on the curb watching traffic speed by and wondered……the grass is green, the water is running, but are the sacrifices made by many “fresh and green” in our hearts this Memorial day weekend?

In an election year when we are at war, gas prices are soaring, recession is debated and jobs are lost, we hear all the time “how bad things are.” Really? Shouldn’t we be reminding ourselves and others of the amazing freedoms we enjoy due to the sacrifice of countless others who went before us? The grass is green on this side of the fence. Are there some weeds? Sure, but there have always been weeds. We are free to make a difference, to chart a course, to work, worship and live free in the greatest nation on earth. Civil War soldiers who fought well over a hundred years ago to preserve the Union fought for a noble cause, they matter still today. All men are created equal and fighting for the preservation of life, liberty and happiness is a noble cause. Are things really that bad? Or do we have to remember what was done for us and work to make a difference, a little CAVU. I learned CAVU from watching a documentary biography on George HW Bush who liked to use the phrase. CAVU is a naval aviator phrase for “Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.” Let’s gratefully remember and accept the sacrifices of those before us and use the freedom we have to do the work before us, because in this country, the ceiling and visibility is unlimited, and the grass is green……