A reminder of sacrifice
As we observed Memorial Day this past Monday it occurred to me that I didn’t know much about its origin. Here’s what I found:
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The Confederate states refused to acknowledge the date, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May under the National Holiday Act of 1971, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead. They include Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee.
In 1915 Moina Michael, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” replied with her own poem and later established the tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives for our nation.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
The sacrifice in Iraq, Afghanistan
As we celebrated Memorial Day this week the casualty count in Iraq and Afghanistan reached 6,508 dead (5,487 U. S.) and 5,725 wounded (4,172 U. S.) as reported by icasualties.org. Bringing it closer to home Alabama has suffered 90 deaths and 638 wounded.
Also, over the past weekend the cost of these wars to us, over and above the loss of life exceeds $1 trillion dollars according to The National Priorities Project (NPP), firstname.lastname@example.org. Alabama’s share of that total is over $9.2 million and the cost to every Alabama taxpayer averages $7,503.
It is difficult for most of us to envision what a trillion dollars $1,000.000.000,000 would look like. The NPP on its web site offers these comparisons:
If you converted $1 trillion into dollar bills and laid them end-to-end they would stretch 98 million miles. That’s 4,000 times around the earth, 205 trips to the Moon, and longer than the distance to the Sun. It would provide over 400 million children with health care for a year.
I certainly don’t have the capacity to make a judgment on whether or not the war over there has been worth the cost. It may be several decades before that can be determined. No matter, we honor those who served this week for the sacrifice they have made.
The oil now threatens our coast
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that with moderate south to southwest winds forecast for the upcoming week, oil might move north and threaten the barrier islands off Mississippi and Alabama by Wednesday or Thursday of this week according to officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The forecast represents the first time NOAA experts have predicted that the oil flowing from the Deepwater Horizon site to the south could hit Alabama. It also comes with NOAA’s normal caution that oil brought near to a bay could be brought further inshore by tidal currents.
NOAA officials also said the south to southwest winds may begin moving oil that has been tending to the southwest from the source toward the Mississippi Delta.
This picture has been getting worse by the day. Finger crossing is probably no longer a viable deterrent.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at: email@example.com