As I read this order, the significance for all Americans comes front and center. It was originated to honor those who died to preserve the Union and end the scourge of slavery. Had this terrible cauldron we call the Civil War ended with a victory for those rebellious states, the future of the United States and in turn the world we know today would not exist.
The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, 110,070 battle deaths and 250,152 by disease totalled 360,222. Most lie in graves far from home as do the war dead of all of our wars until air transport made it possible to return our war dead, to their families.
I am reminded of the pain that families must have felt when they could not find closure by visiting the grave of their departed loved ones. I think of my great-great grandparents, David and Kristina Campbell, whose son, John, fell at Vicksburg and lies buried as unknown in the Vicksburg National Cemetery alone side the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers, a number unmatched by any other national cemetery. My Grandfather once told me that his father, often spoke of his brother, even though he was only a boy of eight when he left for war. One of the treasures my grandfather passed on to me, was a daguerreotype photo of my Great-uncle, Sargent John Campbell taken a few months before his death during the Siege of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863 in the assault on the Railroad Redoubt by the 77th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. I recently gave it to my son to preserve for the next generation and carry forth the remembrance of all those gave their lives in the service to others.
So today and tomorrow I urge everyone stopping by this post, to pause and take the time to read the links and view the videos that Dave has posted at the bottom of his moving tribute. Memorial Day 2009.
UPDATE: Fallen on the Field of Honor