Most people know Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. as a distinguished Supreme Court Justice. But as a young man he served in the Union Army in our Civil War, with one distinguishing act being his quite possibly saving the live of the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, raised up to peer out during a fire fight at the Battle of Fort Stevens within the District of Columbia, telling him to “Get down, you damned fool!” before he recognized the President.

On May 31, 1884, Holmes gave one of the most notable Memorial Day speeches ever, before the John Sedwick Post No,4, Grand Army of the Republic, in Keene, NH.

I have posted about this speech before.

On this Memorial Day, when we have a national chief executive who seems to lack any understanding of military (or civilian) service on behalf of this nation, I thought it worthwhile to remind those who know of this speech and inform those who don’t of it contents, that there is a different approach that even those of us who strongly oppose wars (I am now a Quaker) can recognize and honor, as I did in my small way by volunteering for the Marines (not the only form of service to the nation, to be sure).

So please, take the time.  Read it. Reflect on it.

Please, even if you disagree about why some conflicts were fought, recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of those we honor today, and go on below the break.


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