The meaning of Memorial Day

Ellen White, Planting 20,000 Flags on Memorial Day

  • Title:

    What So Proudly We Hail
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  • Hardcover ISBN:

  • Hardcover Dimensions:

    6" x 9"
  • 790 Hardcover pages
  • Buy the Book

Article Highlights

  • How should we the living best honor the lives of all those who have died in service to our country? #MemorialDay

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  • One among our holidays alone bears the name and the specific call to remembrance: Memorial Day.

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One among our holidays alone bears the name and the specific call to remembrance: Memorial Day.

But how should we the living best honor the lives of all those who have died in service to our country? In what manner and spirit should we remember? Why Memorial Day today? The ebook, “The Meaning of Memorial Day,” explores these questions with selections from American authors and statesmen, including Herman Melville, Ernie Pyle, Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion.



Memorial Day: An American Holiday 

The Origins and Traditions of Memorial Day
John A. Logan, General Orders No. 11
James A. Garfield, Decoration Day Address
Joseph B. Foraker, Address at Arlington Cemetery
Calvin Coolidge, "Freedom and Its Obligations"
Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "In Our Youths Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire"
Pat C. Hoy II, "Homage to Vietnam"

Why Go to War? The Reasons of Nations and the Motives of Men
Christopher Memminger, Declaration of Secession of South Carolina
Sullivan Ballou, Letter to Sarah
James Sloan Gibbons, "We Are Coming, Father Abraham"
Lindley H. Miller, Marching Song of the First Arkansas Regiment
George F. Root, "The Battle Cry of Freedom"
William H. Barnes, "The Battle Cry of Freedom" (Southern version)
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
Frederick Douglass, "Why Should a Colored Man Enlist?"
Woodrow Wilson, Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War
Joyce Kilmer, "The Peacemaker"
Franklin D. Roosevelt, "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy"
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Order of the Day: 6 June 1944
Franklin D. Roosevelt, D-Day Prayer
George W. Bush, Address to Joint Session of Congress Following 9/11 Attacks

The Experience of War
... By Those Who Fought
Walter Kittredge, "Tenting on the Old Camp-Ground"
Herman Melville, "Shiloh: A Requiem"
Stephen E. Ambrose, "Night on the Line," from Citizen Soldiers
E. B. Sledge, "Brave Men Lost," from With the Old Breed
Ernie Pyle, Stories from the Front
"Brave Men, Brave Men"
"The Death of Captain Waskow"
"A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish"

... And Those Who Care for Them
Louisa May Alcott, "A Night," from Hospital Sketches
Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Mrs. Bixby
Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Fanny McCullough
Archibald MacLeish, "Memorial Rain"
John Ciardi, "A Box Comes Home"
Ninette W. Lowater, "Roy's Decoration Day"

Honoring the Fallen Dead
The Dead
Michael R. Strobl, "A Marine's Journey Home"
Richard Watson Gilder, "The Dead Comrade"
Theodore O'Hara, "Bivouac of the Dead"
Mary B. C. Slade, "Soldier's Memorial Day"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Decoration Day"
Joyce Kilmer, "Rouge Bouquet"
John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields"
Moina Bell Michael, "We Shall Keep the Faith"
Henry James, "The Story of a Year"

The Cause
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Voluntaries"
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
Francis Miles Finch, "The Blue and the Gray"
Frederick Douglass, Address at the Monument of the Unknown Dead

Monuments and Memorials
Herman Melville, "Memorials: On the Slain at Chickamauga"
Rutherford B. Hayes, Address at the Unveiling of the Soldiers' Monument
James Whitcomb Riley, "A Monument for the Soldiers"
William Hubbard, "A Meaning for Monuments"

Caitrin Nicol, "A Very Peculiar God"

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About the Author


Leon R.
  • Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and the Madden-Jewett Chair at AEI. He was the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. He has been engaged for more than 40 years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advances and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. His most recent book, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, seeks to promote American identity, character and citizenship. Along with co-editors Amy Kass and Diana Schaub, Dr. Kass is presently working to expand this project by creating video discussions and curricula materials that demonstrate how short stories can be used to enhance our understanding of the Meaning of America.
  • Phone: 202-862-7156
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Caroline Kitchens
    Phone: 202-862-5820

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