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"Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background, the countless minor scenes and interiors of the secession war

… and it is best they should not. The real war will never get in the books.”

~ Walt Whitman

Memorial Day actually began as “Decoration Day”, commemorating Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After WWI it was expanded to honor dead soldiers from all wars.

Whitman also wrote When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed. I’ve monkeyed with the type a bit to make it more readable in this damned narrow column, but you can find the original version through the title.

Now while I sat in the day, and look’d forth,
In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring,
and the farmer preparing his crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land,
with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty,
(after the perturb’d winds, and the storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing,
and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,
and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness,
and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on,
each with its meals and minutia of daily usages;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb’d,
and the cities pent—lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all,
enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Great Thanks to all our veterans.


  1. Jonathan Webb says


  2. Anonymous says

    Good poem.

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