Memorial Day 2017: Sinfonia Remembers

Memorial Day is meant for reflection and remembrance, so we take a moment today to remember all those who have given “the last full measure of devotion” in defense of our liberty, and to give thanks for their service.  While decorating the graves of the fallen with flowers is an ancient tradition, the national observance traces its origins to 1868, when the widows of Civil War veterans gathered to place flowers on the graves, on a day that was officially declared as “Decoration Day” by General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union veterans.

The term “Memorial Day” was not used until 1882, and was not in common use until after World War II. Traditionally observed on May 30, Memorial Day was not declared a National Holiday by Congress until 1967. Shortly thereafter, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, passed in 1968 but not implemented federally until 1971, designated “the last Monday in May” as the date for observance of Memorial Day.

Many argue still that the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, designed to create convenient three-day weekends for the Federal Government, resulted in a loss of the significance and original meaning of the observance.

Many Sinfonians have given their lives in service to our nation, and it is right and just that we take time today to remember those no longer with us, and give thanks for their sacrifice. We encourage Brothers to contribute music for parades and local celebrations, to decorate the graves of Sinfonians who have fallen, and to consider volunteering your time and talent to one of the organizations dedicated to provide live music for military funerals.

Decoration Day

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest

On this Field of the Grounded Arms,

Where foes no more molest,

Nor sentry’s shot alarms!


Ye have slept on the ground before,

And started to your feet

At the cannon’s sudden roar,

Or the drum’s redoubling beat.


But in this camp of Death

No sound your slumber breaks;

Here is no fevered breath, 

No wound that bleeds and aches.


All is repose and peace, 

Untrampled lies the sod;

The shouts of battle cease,

It is the Truce of God!


Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!

The thoughts of men shall be

As sentinels to keep

Your rest from danger free.


Your silent tents of green

We deck with fragrant flowers

Yours has the suffering been,

The memory shall be ours.


-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1882)