With Your Coffee

Roads at Shelburne Farms.

Afternoon view at Shelburne Farms: sheep on the left, mountains up ahead, traveling along a dirt road.

Welcome to summer, everyone! Happy Memorial Day! Are you ready for a three day weekend? How was your week? Learn anything new? Have fun adventures? I’m looking forward to a weekend of some Vermont explorations and cheering on the runners in the Vermont City Marathon + Relay. Here are some interesting stories from around the internet.

Have the best weekend, everyone. Take pictures, laugh, eat ice cream, enjoy the sunshine, eat locally, all good things. Cheers!

Memorial Day

To everyone who has served the United State Military in some capacity: thank you. Thank you for our freedom and liberty, and for keeping us safe in the United States of America. Some Memorial Day history (which began as Decoration Day).  This marble memorial in Proctor, Vermont is a beautiful tribute to those who fought for us.

Proctor, VT

Proctor, VT

Proctor, VT

Proctor, VT: “Dedicated to those who served our country in time of conflict.”

2012 PiP: Memorial Day (Calverton National Cemetery).

Memorial Day

Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY.

Today, Memorial Day, remember those who have died for our freedom while in service.  They are the cost of our freedom. Be sure to show your respect and gratitude.

Learn more about Memorial from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Memorial Day

To those who served the United States of America in all wars and military operations past, to those who are serving today, to those who have defended and supported our country in any way possible, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices. Without you, the rest of us wouldn’t be able to live our lives as carefree as we do today.

Nowadays Memorial Day rings of red, white, & blue, barbecues, parades, summertime, family and friends, retail sales, and beach days (if you’re far south enough). And while enjoying our freedom and being proud to be an American is our right, perhaps we should take a moment to remember why we have this holiday in the first place. Make sure you think of those who have given you the right to enjoy the barbecue today.

Memorial Day began in 1868, but was originally called Decoration Day, and it is a day of remembrance for those who have died while in service to the United States of America. Read the Memorial Day Order:

General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.

I.     The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated 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, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and com­rades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion.”  What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead?  We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.  All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders.  Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude—the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II.         It is the purpose of the Commander‑in‑Chief to inaugurate this observ­ance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III.      Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

By Command of:

John A. Logan
Commander in Chief                                   May 5, 1868

Thank You for Your Service to the United States

Happy Veterans Day to the men and women who have served in the United States Military, whether in active duty, basic training, or in any capacity.  Thank you for your service to our country. And thank you to those of you who will be veterans someday. It is because of all of you that the rest of us live in freedom and not worry about our lives on a day to day basis. I’m sure I speak for the majority of the population when I say that I am eternally grateful and hold you in highest regards. 

Whether you have a relative, a friend, a spouse, a colleague, or anyone you know who has served in the military, please take the few minutes to send them a thank you today. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but a simple thank you for your service to our country will suffice. It will most likely mean a lot to that person. Forget your view on the war and the government; the soldiers are still protecting our rights as Americans.

Understanding the history of Veteran’s Day will perhaps enhance your appreciation of today. Originally Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day because it is acknowledged that World War I officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, 1918.  From the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day History webpage: 

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a “Veterans Day Proclamation” to establish Armistice Day as a day to recognize all veterans. If you are wondering about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Memorial Day is honoring those who died in battle or those who were wounded in battle and later died. Veterans Day honors the living veterans for their service.

Most of us, if we do not grow up around the military environment, do not have the opportunity to talk to veterans about their experiences or see soldiers and veterans anywhere aside from parades. That was the case for me anyway. Several family members of mine did serve in the military, but I never really talked to any of them about it until I took Professor Stanton’s American Folklore class at Mary Washington. In this class, we had the honor of participating in the Veterans History Project. Students took various routes to finding interviewees for the oral history project. I was fortunate to interview my uncle who served during the Vietnam War. Most people who I know who have served in the military during a war do not spend much time talking about it. The same is true with my relatives. For this reason, I was honored to talk to my uncle, as much for family history as for American history. 

Many of the interviews from the Veterans History Project are available online, including the interview with my uncle, James H. Robb. The interview recording and transcription are available online. I am grateful to Professor Stanton for taking the time and energy to make sure that we did everything correctly in order to officially submit our interviews and transcripts to the Library of Congress. School children of all ages – elementary school to college – can participate in the project. It is an incredible and valuable initiative. 

And most importantly, thank you, Uncle Jimmy, for your service during the Vietnam War. 

Happy Veterans Day.