Dennis Miller: I don't wanna go on a rant here, but America's foreign policy makes about as much sense as Beowulf having sex with Robert Fulton at the First Battle of Antietam, I mean when a Neo-Conservative defenestrates, it's like Raskolnikov filibustered deoxymonohydroxinate
Peter Griffin: What the hell does rant mean?
—Family Guy, “Peter Griffin: Husband, Father… Brother?” (12/6/01)
So for the last couple of years, I’ve been doing a Memorial Day post that’s been largely photos, with a little bit of side information thrown in. This year won’t be a lot different, but let me start with a little history:
Memorial Day was originally the brainchild of a pharmacist in Waterloo, NY named Henry Welles. Noting that New York State had experienced greater losses in the Civil War than any other state, he organized a community-based memorial in 1866. A parade was held, and people gathered to decorate the gravestones of the men who had died. This became known as “Decoration Day” and spread to many other communities until, in 1868, General John Logan proclaimed May 30 to be a day of commemoration for the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Meanwhile, a judge in New York’s Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) named Francis Finch was inspired by his tours of the South following the war, and wrote a poem titled “The Blue and the Gray”, which was published in the Atlantic Monthly. This led to a widespread interest in a national movement to establish a single day of commemoration for the soldiers who had died on both sides in the Civil War. New York became the first state in the Union to recognize Decoration Day as a holiday, beginning in 1873. By 1889, “Decoration Day” had become “Memorial Day” and was a national holiday celebrated on May 30 every year until 1971, when (like so many other holidays) observance was moved to the last Monday in May.
Some editorial cartoonists’ take on Memorial Day. I’ve tried to choose a bunch that didn’t take too left or right a slant. With one exception I think I succeeded. In that last case the overall message was the thing that shone through, and the political angle was a side note:
John McCutcheon, 1900. The caption for this cartoon is:
“You bet I’m goin’ to be a soldier, too, like my Uncle David, when I grow up.”
Dick Locher, 2004.
Joe Heller, 2004.
Thanks again to all who serve, and who have served.