To the women and men of the Burlington police Department,
Best wishes to all of you on this Memorial Day, especially to those of you working dispatch or the road, keeping our city safe as people enjoy this special day.
At heart, of course, this holiday is not about enjoyment; it is about remembrance. To the extent that we *can* enjoy it, it’s because of the sacrifices of those whom we memorialize: the men and women of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines Corps, and Coast Guard who gave the last full measure of devotion so that our nation could survive, and thrive, and strive to be what it is meant to be. There are things worth sacrificing for.
The official origin of Memorial Day is usually held to be a proclamation in May 1868 by the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan. He called for "Decoration Day" to be observed annually and nationwide on May 30, supposedly because that was the best time for the flowers that were to be strewn on the graves of the fallen.
But there is evidence of other, earlier precedents. In 1865, on the first of May—just three weeks after the surrender at Appomattox, just two weeks after President Lincoln was assassinated—formerly enslaved Americans held a parade in Charleston, South Carolina, where the war’s first shots had been fired four years earlier. Some 10,000 people attended. They came to honor 257 dead Union soldiers, whose remains the freed people had disinterred from an unmarked mass grave in a Confederate prison camp, and whom they had reburied with glory and honors. Think for a moment about what that must have been like, and what it says about the people who did it.
I hope everyone today takes at least a moment to give respect to those to whom we owe so much.
Acting Chief of Police
Burlington Police Department