Nearly 40 individuals gathered at the Yelm Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor the countless men and women who lost their lives fighting for freedom in the United States.
Steven Slater, a representative with VFW Post 5580, thanked the audience for attending the ceremony on Monday, May 29.
Slater then presented “General Order No. 11,” which implemented a day of remembrance for those who died during the Civil War. This served as the groundwork for what is now Memorial Day.
“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,” Slater recited. “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.”
The order stated the day of remembrance was intended for “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 who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms,” Slater recited. “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.”
Slater said as long as two comrades survive, so will the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion render tribute to the heroic dead.
“On this day, we assemble once again to express sincere reverence. These graves represent the resting place of many departing comrades who served in all wars. Our presence here is in solemn commemoration of all these men and women, an expression of our tribute to the devotion of duty, to their courage and patriotism,” Slater said. “By their service, on land, sea and in the air, they have made us their debtors, for the flag of our nation still flies over a land of free people.”
Following Slater’s statements, Chaplain James. A Smith with American Legion Post No. 167 and the American Legion Auxiliary, led a prayer to remember fallen veterans.
Before the prayer, Smith recited an Irish proverb.
“Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, but love leaves a memory that no one can steal. And these three things remain — faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love,” Smith said.
Smith then continued with his prayer
“All mighty God, in your hands are the living and the dead. We give you thanks for all those of our comrades that have laid down their lives in the service of our country,” Smith said in prayer. “May they rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon them. May the good work of seeking justice for the oppressed and seeking peace for all of mankind be rewarded. May we never fail to remember the cost of the freedoms we enjoy.”
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