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Decoration Day—Let’s Create Our Roll of Honor

Decoration Day started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The remembrance provided an opportunity to reflect on the terrible toll both sides paid in determining our Nation’s future. Combined, the two sides sacrificed over 600,000 soldiers giving true significance to the day; few families could say they had not felt the loss of a relative or friend.

The origin of the day is somewhat disputed, however grave decorations have been recorded for the fallen as early as 1861. Many historians credit Boalsburg, Pennsylvania as the origin after women decorated soldiers’ graves in 1864. Regardless the time and place, Decoration Day was a day to remember those members of the military who lives were lost in the service of our country.

The first observance to gain significant publicity happened shortly after the end of the Civil War. Teachers, missionaries, and black residents known as freedmen descended on the site where some 250 Union soldiers had been buried after perishing as prisoners of war in the Hampton Park Race Park. The soldiers had been hastily buried in unmarked graves and without ceremony or honor.

The freedman tended the grounds and built an enclosure and arch known as the “Martyrs of the Race Course.” The New York Tribune and other lesser national newspapers covered the event as close to 10,000 people, mostly freedmen including 3,000 of their children now in the school, turned out to honor the fallen soldiers. Flowers were brought and laid on the burial field.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial on July 4, 2011.

Memorial Day

The 20th Century brought two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and numerous other conflicts that our finest men and women were called to pay the price for Lady Liberty. With these conflicts, many new names were added to the list of honor. As more have fallen, more people have found cause to continue the remembrance with personal significance. With more to remember, the name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day and included all who died during military service versus just those of the Civil War.

On May 26, 1966, President Johnson declared Waterloo, New York to be the birthplace of Memorial Day with the signing of a proclamation. This followed Congress’ passage of the House Concurrent Resolution 587, which recognized Waterloo, New York as the birthplace a century earlier. This of course led to numerous other claims to be the birthplace, none of which has ever been conclusively proven to be the true birthplace.

Where and when exactly did it begin? Who knows and who cares? What matters most is that the fallen service members’ sacrifice will be honored and remembered. As was true after the Civil War, few today can claim they have not been touched, lost a loved one, family member, friend or someone they served with, who lost their life during military service. Let us remember them today with our own roll call of honor by remembering them here.

Please list the soldier, sailor, airmen or marine you want to remember in the comment section. I’ll start with two: EM3 Daniel Jones, USS Antietam CG-54 Persian Gulf, Operation Desert Shield and Maj. Ricardo A Crocker, 5th Civil Affairs Group, Marine Forces Reserve, Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Hadithah, Iraq.

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Comments (44)

  1. I served in the U.S. Army Honor Guard and just outside the back gate was Iwo Jima Memorial (Marine Corps Memorial) and we would run past the Vietnam Memorial wall at least once a month. Great times in D.C. honoring our fallen heros.

  2. SP4 James Leo Plumlee jr. E Co 1st BN, !st Inf Div, USARV Phuoc Long Province, S. Vietnam

  3. Wilson K. Binam. Kenneth A. Binam. Daniel Wells. Boyd Binam. Carl Binam. Lester Binam. Clyde Binam. Ralph Binam. Steve Laimbock. Paul Spence. Leonard Bruce Wells. All served. WW11, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. Mostly family, one friend.

  4. SSgt Edward J. Mertzlufft
    Squad Leader – K Company, 3/302nd Infantry (94th ID)
    KIA January 20, 1945; Nennig, Germany

  5. Pvt Otis A. Reese KIA France 4 Oct 1918
    66th PA
    SSG Shawn Clemens killed when a weapons cache exploded on Jan 29,2004 in Afganistan

  6. Please check out my former arty batt website. Proud Americans @ 2/32 arty 23 arty group 2nfield force Mac v the batt was in vet nam for 6 and a half yeays

  7. Too many in my lifetime to name them all. So for anyone who made the ultimate sacrifice. God be with you.

  8. PFC Boyd R. Kimrey
    363rd Infantry Regiment 91st Infantry Div.
    KIA 17 Sept 1944
    Northern Italy

  9. So many have been lost in every war, but freedom is not free, but I will not forget my pilot Wild Bill Reed, Capt. USAF, 45 years later and it seems like yesterday. He did not come home but his memory will always survive, on the wall and in our hearts.
    God Bless them all!

  10. Ssgt. Christopher Lee Moore.
    1st Battalion
    5th Cavalry Regiment
    2nd Brigade Combat Team
    1st Cavalry Division
    Fort Hood, Texas
    May 19th, 2007

  11. Would like us to remember my 6th Great Granfather who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Also, my Dad and Uncles who were in WWII and another Uncle who was in Korea. I am retired Air Force………now my youngest Son is overseas fighting for our freedoms. God Bless our active duty and all Veterans of all the wars we have fought in. We shall forever keep our oath for this great country called America.

  12. I want you all to know about my friend and cousin SSG Willard L Arntz, a great American Soldier who served in Vietnam with The 25th Infantry Division and the support from Butch Sinock, Tropic Lightning.

  13. My dad, SSgt Walter James Newton, armorer, 33rd Fighter Group, 58th Squadron, WWII, died of complications from malaria contracted during the war

    SP4 Lee Thomas Baiz, Vietnam, died 7/29/1970, Panel 8W, Row 64, friend and neighbor

  14. Ssg William E Callahan. USAAF
    Sgt. Edward Kiimczyk USMC
    Sgt. John Callahan USA
    Lcpl Francis Callahan USMC
    S1 Skylar R Collins USN
    Sgt John Lasher USA
    P.O. 2 Richard Lasher USN
    And this is just one family
    Oh Yeah and me
    Sgt. Patrick M. Callahan USA

  15. Members of my family have fought in every war since the French and Indian War and the Revolution. Of those I actually knew:

    Grandfather – WWII (have to admit I never met him since he was long gone before i was born)
    Father and 3 uncles – WWII
    Older brother – Korea
    Cousin – Viet Nam (I was in but never got sent to Nam myself)
    Myself – 2 1/2 years in Iraq

    Anyone who doesn’t respect our soldiers or wouldn’t fight for what we have should just buy a one-way ticket out.

    1. I live with a similar situation.

      Grandfather: WWII & The Korean War
      Uncle: WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam & Desert Storm. 40 yrs Admiral Vernon C. Smith, US Navy Ret.

      Father: Vietnam 9 yrs in the US Air Force and 32 yrs US Army.
      CW4 James E. Smith, US Army Ret.

      Brother: 32 yrs, Desert Storm
      James E. Smith SMSgt Ret

      Brother: 3 yrs US Army
      Former SPC Robert A. Smith

      Myself: Desert Storm, OIF2 28 yrs
      SFC Raymond S. Smith, US Army Ret.

      But who I most admire and respect is my Mother, for having over 100 years of combined Military support under her roof.

      I’m very thankful that no member of my family had to sacrifice their life for our freedoms but we were all prepared to do so.

    2. WWII – Ben Berger. passed in 2013 at 93.

      OIF – SSG Rebecca Canter – wife. med retired after 10+ years in the US Army due to a TBI sustained during service. (luckily she is still alive and well)

  16. SGT Harold L Prevatt, Korea 1951 – 1953
    SFC Michael Cathcart, Logar Province, Afghanistan, KIA 2014

  17. RM2 PeteDub Sr. My Dad, Navy radioman who served all over Pacific during WWII, and served as part of occupying force in Japan after WWII.
    2LT HaroldDub My uncle, one of the original combat weathermen and later B-25 pilot, killed in the Burma Campaign
    Col KoehlDub, My uncle, P-47 pilot awarded the DFC for campaign in Italy and instructor in original Air Force fighter pilot instructor school.
    Sgt BobDub, My uncle, Army Intel who assisted at Nuremburg trials and later became a well-known lawyer in their home town.

    TillieKDub, My widowed Grandmother who sent all 4 of her sons to fight WWII, each in a different theater.

  18. Carey A.
    Matt B.
    Al G.
    Tony B.
    John K.

    Close friends I served with who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

    Whenever I hear the Star Spangled Banner, see Old Glory flying or even hear a military jet overhead, I still remember each face and the gory detail of each of their deaths, from 4 decades ago.

  19. Colonel Cleveland Campbell, led the first all black unit at Petersburg as a white officer. Wounded, died years later of complications.

    PFC James Williams, killed in Vietnam, 1968, my great uncle.

  20. My cousin U.S. Army Sgt. Jimmy Lee Culwell, 19 years old, a paratrooper, 173 Airborne Bde, KIA January 29, 1969 in Republic of South Vietnam by a booby trap while leading a patrol.

    My cousin U.S ARMY Pvt. Donald Gene King,
    27 years old, 1st Infantry Division “Big Red 1”,
    KIA on January 01, 1969 Republic of Siuth Vietnam, while running back to save a wou ded team member was killed by hostle enemy rifle fire.

    My cousins were both awarded, and earned The Silver Star Medal our nations 3rd highest decoration.

    I miss both of my cousins veey much.
    I volunteered, and took my oath into service in 1969.

    “God Bless All Our Troops, past, Present, and Future.”

  21. SGT Kenneth T. “Bip” Ford
    US Army Berlin Brigade
    Murdered by cowardly scumbag Libyan terrorist trash on 4 April 1986

    Save me a seat up there, my brother.

  22. ANDREW G. ANTON SR., SSGT USAAF, 1942-1945. At age 15 he was plowing an 80 acre farm with horses in Clayton, Wisconsin. Three years later he’s sitting in the tail gunner’s seat of a MARTIN MARAURDER B-26 flying missions over Germany. Shot down over Cologne, Germany 11 weeks before the end of the war, he parachuted to safety. Never very fond of heights after that. Said he didn’t even like being that far off the ground at five foot six! I would later serve in Berlin as an Army intelligence officer.

  23. My childhood friend, Sgt. Michael Ingram, Baytown TX. Died Dec 1, 1999 at the age of 47 from complications of Gulf War Syndrome. He is still greatly missed by his family and friends. RIP.

  24. USMC PFC Stephen D. Tingley of Ellington, CT. He was killed on October 23rd, 1983 in Beirut Lebanon when the cowardly jihadist vermin drove a truck bomb into barracks full of sleeping Marines. He was a childhood friend and I miss him.

    RIP and Semper Fi, Marine!

  25. My memory continually fades, but I remember these few:
    Sgt. Larry Brown, WO2 Ben Ide, WO2 Mark Clotfelter, WO1 Mahowold, and a very special Jack C Sheldon USN retired, my dad, long sinced passed.
    God bless them and keep them in His arms.

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