On Remembering Our Shared Fallen

The Confederate Monument today, looking south.

The Confederate Monument today, looking south at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D. C.

“If I am correctly informed by history, it is fitting that the Sabbath should be your Memorial Day. This follows from the belief that except for the forces of Oliver Cromwell no army was ever more thoroughly religious than that which followed General Lee. Moreover, these ceremonies necessarily are expressive of a hope and a belief that rise above the things of this life. It was Lincoln who pointed out that both sides prayed to the same God. When that is the case, it is only a matter of time when each will seek a common end. We can now see clearly what that end is. It is the maintenance of our American form of government, of our American institutions, of our American ideals, beneath a common flag, under the blessings of Almighty God.

“It was for this purpose that our Nation was brought forth. Our whole course of history has been proceeding in that direction. Out of a common experience, made more enduring by a common sacrifice, we have reached a common conviction. On this day we pause in memory of those who made their sacrifice in one way. In a few days we shall pause again in memory of those who made their sacrifice in another way. They were all Americans, all contending for what they believed were their rights. On many a battlefield they sleep side by side. Here, in a place set aside for the resting place of those who have performed military duty, both make a final bivouac. But their country lives.

Americans North and South gather with Coolidge to honor all Americans who fought and died for our ideals, but especially those who wore the gray, 1924.

Americans North and South gather with Coolidge to honor all who fought and died for our ideals, but especially those who wore the gray, 1924. Coolidge could have used Presidential rhetoric to withhold recognition, instead he upheld the honor and importance of what they died to preserve. He helped to heal, not inflame, division and to reunite all Americans around our love of country founded on principles we share in common. See a silent film from the gathering here.

“The bitterness of conflict is passed. Time has softened it; discretion has changed it. Your country respects you for cherishing the memory of those who wore the gray. You respect others who cherish the memory of those who wore the blue. In that mutual respect may there be a firmer friendship, a stronger and more glorious Union…

“…A mightier force than ever followed Grant or Lee has leveled both their hosts, raised up an united Nation, and made us all partakers of a new glory. It is not for us to forget the past but to remember it, that we may profit by it. But it is gone; we cannot change it. We must put our emphasis on the present and put into effect the lessons the past has taught us. All about us sleep those of many different beliefs and many divergent actions. But America claims them all…” — President Calvin Coolidge, May 25, 1924

The Confederate Memorial at Arlington in 1922, two years before President Coolidge spoke the words above. In the years to follow, the markers of those who wore the gray would multiply as the great heroes and warriors of the South shed mortality.

The Confederate Memorial at Arlington in 1922, two years before President Coolidge spoke the words above. In the years to follow, the markers of those who wore the gray would multiply as the great warriors of the South shed mortality.

One thought on “On Remembering Our Shared Fallen

  1. Pingback: On How History Brings Us Together Again | The Importance of the Obvious

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