Today, as we are looking toward Memorial Day, I turn once again to that most famous of all of our country's first celebrated bards - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was rock-star-famous in his own time, known both throughout the United States and abroad for his very American verse. Given his near poet laureate status, Longfellow took it upon himself to compose poems about America's important moments...and those became some of America's most important poems. "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" comes to mind. And how many school-children for over a hundred years memorized long portions of "Hiawatha" to recite for school programs?
As we welcome Memorial Day weekend, perhaps this would be a fitting reminder of the meaning behind the day? Written originally to remember the soldiers of the Civil War, "Decoration Day" was first published in "The Atlantic" magazine in 1882. What then was known as Decoration Day, a new civic observance, soon gave rise to Memorial Day - a time to remember all of those military veterans who gave their lives for our freedom. And wouldn't you know? Henry Wadworth Longfellow is the man who rose to the task. I still don't think anyone has summed it up better.
Perhaps you might read this around the table this weekend, and pause to remember? The picture & poem at the top of the post are downloadable. Feel free to share. And, have a very happy Memorial Day Weekend!