Editorial: Memorial Day (5-29-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 29, 1943)

Editorial: Memorial Day

Few of us need a reminder that thousands of American boys have already died for their country in this war, and that many more thousands will inevitably die before victory.

But this Memorial Day weekend ought to stop our busy lives long enough to give more than passing thought to the grim realities of war and the awful tragedies it imposes on so many loyal American families.

These families have committed no crime against society and earned no enmity from any segment of the world’s population, American or foreign. By the mere whim of chance, their sons, fathers, husbands and sweethearts are sacrificing their lives.

Memorial Day was originated in 1868 by John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, who proclaimed the 30th of May a day:

…for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.

This is the 75th Memorial Day. It will be a day of honor the dead of Gettysburg and Bull Run, of Antietam and Vicksburg, the dead of San Juan Hill and Manila, the dead of Chateau Thierry and the Argonne, of Belleau Wood and St. Mihiel.

We cannot strew flowers on the graves of those who have died on Guadalcanal, or before Hill 609, or on Bataan or Attu, or over the ports of Italy or the industrial valleys of Germany, or on the high seas on in China.

To those families already suffering the sorrows of this grimmest and greatest of wars, no words will intone the solemnity of Memorial Day. But those who so far have been untouched by personal tragedy can at least honor this wear’s dead by performing extra work and making small sacrifices without complaint and with a will to do their part toward ending the war by the earliest possible date.