The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open Tues-Sat from 8am to 4pm, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Tues-Sun from 9am to 4pm, and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum is open daily from 8am to 4pm.

We Remember

by Nov 17, 2019

On the morning of the final day of each reunion of former USS Missouri crewmembers, they gather for the tolling of the bell, the whistle of the bos’n’s pipe and the calling of the names of those shipmates who have been lost over the course of the past year. At the closing of that memorial service the Association’s Chaplain offers a version of a prayer originally written by Rabbi’s Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer, named: “A Litany of Remembrance”:

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

We remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,

We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,

We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,

We remember them.”

In the photo above, Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.*, commander of ground forces during the Battle of Okinawa, joins Red Cross nurses Dorothy Rowbotham and Dorothy Furrow in salute and remembrance of the fallen during Memorial Day services at the US Army 7th Infantry Division Cemetery on the island, May 30, 1945.

(National Archives photo SC-211489)

It began spontaneously in communities across the country, North and South, after the end of our nation’s Civil War.

On May 5, 1868, three years after war’s end, John A. Logan, Commander-In-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Army veterans, issued an order:

“The 30th day of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion…”

On May 30, 1868, Civil War veteran and former Union Army Major General James A. Garfield**, later President, began the first Decoration Day address to the 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, with these words:

“I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung…”

Congress established Decoration Day as a federal holiday in 1888 to allow Civil War veterans in federal employ to pay their respects to those who gave their lives in the conflict, without losing a day’s pay.

Federal law officially changed the name of the holiday to Memorial Day in 1967, and in 1971 Congress passed the National Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day to the last Monday of May, to create a three-day weekend.

On May 3rd, 2000, President Clinton issued a memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies establishing a “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day at 3:00 PM local time, reminding us that “Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values.”

The US Memorial Day Organization also reminds us of that the significance of Memorial Day “is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.”

We Remember.

*On June 18, 1945, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. was mortally wounded by shrapnel from Japanese artillery fire while visiting a forward observation post near the southwest tip of Okinawa.

**On July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was wounded by an assassin’s bullet. He lived for 80 days before dying two months shy of his 50th birthday.