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Memorial Day - Is A Day of Solemn Commemoration, Not Hot Dogs
Our fallen heroes deserve and need our prayers, not gluttony, today
Most folks think of Memorial Day as the day that kicks off summer or the day that the great-American-hot dog notches its first outdoor cooking of the year. For those that commemorate the holiday with solemn remembrances of Our war-dead this is mostly confined to wars of the last 75 years: WW II, Korea, Vietnam and most recently Iraq & Afghanistan. While these wars certainly deserve their well earned, somber Memorials they are not exclusive.
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In Northern states there are hundreds of historical markers for the battles of the war for American Independence. Most people are familiar with Washington’s famous victory over Lord Cornwalis at Yorktown, VA but few know of the heroic efforts of Nathan Hale who was captured by the British as he was deployed gathering intelligence for Washington during the battle of New York.
On 22 September, 1776 Hale was executed for treason by General Sir William Howe after famously saying1 he regretted that he had “but one life to lose for my country.” Connecticut History .org tells the story thus.
On September 22, 1776, the British hanged Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Hale for spying. Born in Coventry in 1755, Hale attended Yale College and later became a schoolteacher. After hostilities erupted in Lexington and Concord in 1775, Hale joined a Connecticut militia and participated in the siege of Boston. In July 1775, Hale joined the Continental army’s Seventh Connecticut Regiment under Charles Webb of Stamford. Hale was promoted to captain, and in early 1776, he commanded a small unit defending New York City. The British captured New York City during the Battle of Long Island, and on September 8, 1776, Hale volunteered to go behind enemy lines to report on British troop movements.
On September 21, part of lower Manhattan was suspiciously burned in the Great New York Fire of 1776. After the fire, the British captured more than 200 American supporters. Hale, despite being disguised, was apprehended and questioned, and physical evidence of his spying was seized. On the morning of September 22, Hale was marched along the Post Road to a public house called the Dove Tavern and hanged. He was 21 years old. The site of the Dove Tavern is at the present-day corner of 66th Street and Third Ave, although there are two other locations in Manhattan that also claim to be the hanging site.
Many accounts of the hanging state that Hale was composed and spoke eloquently at the gallows. British officer Frederick MacKensie wrote in his diary on that day:
“He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”
Hale’s body was never recovered, and over the years, Nathan Hale’s memory and his sacrifice for his beliefs have been honored with everything from postage stamps to statues. In 1985, Nathan Hale became Connecticut’s official state hero.
The United States Navy commissioned a nuclear submarine named for Captain Nathan Hale.
Southerners also have ample tales of heroism to tell and commemorate on Memorial Day. The Battle of New Orleans is known for making General Andrew Jackson famous but seldom do we hear of the 333 men in various American militia uniforms who who were wounded, killed or went missing during that campaign. Serving under Jackson were blacks, free and slave, Choctaw Indians and thousands of Louisiana & Mississippi militia…
Militia units from surrounding states joined local troops in defending Louisiana. These included mounted militia and dragoons, (mounted troops who rode into battle, dismounted, and fought on foot). Major Gabriel Villeré commanded the Louisiana Militia, and Major Jean Baptiste Plauché headed the New Orleans uniformed militia companies. Each of these companies had its own distinctive, colorful uniform, and many of their members had previous military experience in France, Saint-Domingue (Haiti), and Latin America… The First and Second Battalions of Free Men of Color, comprising over six hundred men, played an important role in the Louisiana campaign, just as free black men had during the colonial period in the service of France and Spain. Louisiana was the first state in the Union to commission a military officer of African descent, and an act passed by the Louisiana legislature in 1812 was the first in the nation to authorize a black volunteer militia with its black line officers.
Up the Mississippi River another heroic stand was made in September 1862 and late May, 1863 in the Battle of Baton Rouge and Siege of Port Hudson by The Ninth Battalion Louisiana Infantry commanded by B.R. Chinn. According to an 1863 edition of the St Francisville Democrat Newspaper, the Ninth Battalion…
“…held posts of honor along the right wing during the siege, … constantly being moved, either to reinforce some point or to relieve other troops at exposed points. They were actively employed and with great credit to themselves, losing many gallant men and officers.”
We should do all we can to remember ALL those who make the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of their Revolution, Their State and Their Country and pray it is a long time when we significantly add to their numbers again.
Meantime, a new battle has begun, a battle not of cannon and musket and bayonet charges but a battle every bit as violent and the stakes are higher. This is the battle of good vs evil. A battle of those who love and serve God and His creation as he gives it to us and those who despise God and that creation and fight to mutilate the very physical bodies of children, corrupt their souls and turn them against God.
The current weapons in this battle are prayer and fasting boosted by Sacred, public processions and vigilance in our public affairs that the Enemy has taken the initiative to pervert.
Prior to the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson stopped at St. Louis Cathedral, sought out the Ursuline Sisters who were known for their devotion in prayer and asked for their prayers. The sisters prayed and asked their “Little Sweetheart”, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, for Her assistance. We know the result, thus we can appeal to Her in our battle today as Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
To the surviving families of all veterans of all wars,
And to your loved ones, for the repose of their souls.
Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine
℟. Et lux perpetua luceat ei:
℣. Requiescat in pace.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of all The Americas, ora pro nobis.