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Memorial Day



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Memorial Day
"Light Bread and Apple Butter" by Harold Keith (Illustrations by Emil Weiss)
"Barbara Frietchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier (Illustrations by Irving Leveton)
"The Blue and the Gray" by Francis Miles Finch
"Sheridan's Ride" by T. Buchanan Read (Illustrations by William Colrus)
"The Sword of Robert Lee" by Abram J. Ryan
"The Conquered Banner" by Abram J. Ryan
Links to Great Memorial Day Sites



Memorial Day
MAY 30

A day that honors dead soldiers is always one of mixed emotions. We are proud of the glory they have won, proud of the job they have done to keep us free. And we are sad that good men had to suffer and die.

Memorial Day was called Decoration Day when, on May 30, 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued the order that, ". . . every post of the G.A.R. should hold suitable exercises and decorate the graves of their dead comrades with flowers."

Memorial Day originally reminded us of those who died during the Civil War, a battle in which our countrymen fought each other, North against South, brother against brother, father against son. Those who died for the South and states' rights were just as sure they were right as those who died for the North and the Union.

Today, Memorial Day, celebrated on the fourth monday in May, honors the dead of all our wars.

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Light Bread and Apple Butter
BY HAROLD KEITH
Illustrations by Emil Weiss

SUMMER passed, and with the coming of autumn the Kansas troops at Rolla were issued warm woolen gloves and long blue overcoats. Jeff was satisfied with everything but the food. He would always be hungry, he reckoned. They never got enough to eat.

He was issued three days' rations during a march and could have eaten it all in one day. And now that cooler weather had arrived, his appetite had burst its fetters. He was hungrier than a woodpecker with a headache.

One Sunday afternoon in October, after inspection, he took Dixie for a walk down the leaf-strewn road to the clay pits, hoping to find some ripe persimmons. It was good to be out in the tingling air.

The north wind held just enough of a sting in it that his short coat felt comfortable. From somewhere back in the quiet timber he heard the splintering thud of an ax. His nose caught the sour, winy odor of a cider press. A sharp pleasure came over him. It was good to get away from the camp, where for three long hours the officers had kept him busy cleaning his quarters and scrubbing his buttons and buckles with a fresh corncob in advance of the brigade commander's weekly inspection visit.

The Missouri woods reminded him of his mother's brilliantly colored rag rug that lay on the split-log floor beside her bed, back in Linn County. The blackjack seedlings seemed aflame in the genial sunshine. The young hickories glowed in livid gold. The oaks couldn't seem to agree on an appropriate color; some wore a subdued foliage of yellow and pale green, others were gay in bronze and bright red. A cardinal flew leisurely out of a tall, coppery sweet gum, and Jeff thought at first it was a falling leaf. Dixie trotted along contentedly at his side.

Soon they came to a rude clearing and Jeff saw a small, un painted clapboard house with crude leather hinges on the door. Behind the house were several apple trees, heavy with fruit. A small patch of big orange pumpkins lay in a garden nearby.

The red apples looked so tempting that for a moment Jeff hesitated. It would be easy to help himself. Curbing his fierce appetite, he decided to ask first and, walking up a small pas sageway of pulverized white rock, knocked vigorously on the thin-planked door.

A woman opened it, frowning suspiciously at his blue uni form. With a gnarled hand she raked the black hair out of her eyes. Jeff snatched off his army cap.

"Mam," said Jeff, twisting the cap in his hands bashfully, "I'm real hungry. Could I have some of those apples yonder?" With his cap, he pointed at the fruit trees nearby. He saw a small boy's white, scrubbed face peering curiously at him from behind the woman's skirts.

"Begone with ye," the woman snapped, in a tired, strained voice. "Iffen I feed one of ye, ye'd come back tomorrey, an' bring the whole army with you. We ain't got enough fer ourselves." She started to shut the door.

Jeff stepped back, disappointment in his face. "Mam," he said politely, "I wouldn't bring the army down on you. And I'll be glad to work for the apples. I was raised on a farm in Kansas. You got any man's work needs to be done around here? Anything you want lifted, any fence to fix?"

Now it was the woman's turn to look surprised. Hopefully Jeff watched her. When she glanced at his blue uniform she scowled. But when she looked into his boyish face, her hard features began to soften and her distrust to fade.

"I reckon it's all right," she whined, wearily. "Just help yo'sef to the apples. Ye don't need to work fer 'em. Most soldiers woulda jest taken 'em and not even bothered to knock."

Relief flooded Jeff, like a warm shaft of sunshine.

"Yes, mam," he said, "I come pretty near doing that myself, mam, I was so famished."

She seemed pleased with his honesty and opened the door wider. A small girl with curly yellow hair thrust her head bashfully around the jamb. When Jeff smiled at the children, the boy opened his mouth and smiled back and Jeff saw he had two upper front teeth missing.

"Ye don't look like a soldier nohow," the woman said. "Ye look more like a schoolboy. Ye orter be home with yer mother."

"Yes, mam," grinned Jeff.

That grin must have done something to her, because now she stepped back. "Why don't ye come in?" she invited. "Sit down. We ain't got much ourselves but mebbe we can do better fer ye than jest raw apples."

She indicated a kitchen table covered with oilcloth. "Sit than" She went back into the shed room. Gratefully Jeff stepped inside and sat down.

"Do ye like light bread and apple butter?" she called from somewhere inside the house.

Jeff could feel his mouth puckering with hunger. "I sure do, mam. I'd like it even if it had bugs on it."

She came back carrying a stone jar of apple butter, part of a round loaf of fresh light bread and a tall blue-glass bottle of cold milk. "It ain't much. But it ain't got no bugs on it. Hep yersef."

"Yes, mom. Thank you, mam."

With a long, sharp, bone-handled knife, she planed off three slices of the bread. Jeff could smell the fragrant yeast. With an effort he restrained himself.

"Mam," he said, "may I give my dog some of this? I'll bet she's almost as hungry as me."

The woman said, "You list go ahead, now, and eat yore vittles. I'll feed yore dog."

"Yes, mam," Jeff said. "Thank you, mam."

Overjoyed at his good fortune, he ate ravenously while the two children, fingers in mouth, stared shyly at him.

"My name's McComas," the woman said, returning and sitting at the other side of the table. "We're lucky to hev any food at all these days. One army or "'other's on us all the time."

"We get rations," Jeff explained between bites, "but they aren't much. Just a little bacon and corn meal and coffee."

"Ye talk different than us," the woman said. "Where'bouts was ye raised?"

"In Linn County, Kansas, mam, close to the Missouri border," Jeff said. "My mother was a schoolteacher back in Kentucky before she got married. She taught all of us our speech." He told them all about his home, his family, and the bushwhackers.

The woman's eyes grew hard at the mention of the bushwhackers. "There's bushwhackers in both no'th an' south," she said, smoothing her faded gray apron over her knee. "I got a sister livin' near Neosho, close to the Kansas border. They was raided twict by Montgomery's Jayhawkers from Kansas an' got cleaned out both times. Bushwhackers. no matter which side they's on, is the lowest critters on God's green earth."

"Yes, mam," agreed Jeff. With the back of his hand he wiped the bread crumbs off his mouth. Feeling full for the first time in weeks, he arose to go.

"Mam, are you sure you haven't got some chores or something I could help you with around here? I've a little time before I have to go back."

Appreciative, she showed him an ax and several long blackjack logs piled together in the yard. Taking off his coat, Jeff picked up the ax and began to swing it in the crisp fall air. He enjoyed the exercise. He hadn't used an ax since he had left home. Soon he had cut enough wood to keep the fireplace going several days. He carried part of it inside for her, stacking it neatly on the hearth.

She thanked him, wiping her rough hands on her apron. "Thet'll last us a week. My man's in the army. It's hard to keep going without him."

"Mam," said Jeff, just before he left, "could I take a blouse ful of those apples back to my messmates in camp? I'd take the ones on the ground. And I wouldn't tell them where I got them. They're hungry, too."

She gave him an old tow sack. Jeff filled it with windfalls.

As he and Dixie walked away, he looked back and saw them all three standing in the doorway watching him. He waved. The boy and the girl waved back.

From Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith, copyright 1957 by Harold Keith.
Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

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Barbara Frietchie
By John Greenleaf Whittier
Illustration by Irving Leveton


Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach-tree fruited deep,

Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall;

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with silver stars,
Forty flags with crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.



Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

"Halt!"_the dust-brown ranks stood fast
"Fire!"_out blazed the rifle blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word;

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

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The Blue and the Gray
By Francis Miles Finch
Illustration by Irving Leveton




By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Under the one, the Blue;
Under the other, the Gray.

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Under the laurel, the Blue;
Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Under the roses, the Blue;
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendour,
The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Broidered with gold, the Blue;
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Wet with the rain, the Blue;
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Under the blossoms, the Blue;
Under the garlands, the Gray.

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger for ever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day:
Love and tears for the Blue;
Tears and love for the Gray.

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Sheridan's Ride
By T. Buchanan Read
Illustration by William Colrus



Up from the South at break of day,
Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste, to the chieftan's door,
The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more_
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

And wider still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon's bar;
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold,
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray_
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down;
And there, through the flush of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night
Was seen to pass as with eagle flight;
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with his utmost speed;
Hills rose and fell; but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

Still spring from those swift hoofs, thundering South,
The dust, like smoke from the cannon's mouth,
Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster,
Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.
The heart of the steed and the heart of the master,
Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
Impatient to be where the battlefield calls;
Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
With Sheridan only ten miles away.



Under his spurning feet the road,
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind,
And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace fire,
Swept on, with his wild eye full of fire.
But lo! he is nearing his heart's desire:
He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the general saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops.
What was done_what to do? A glance told him both.
Then, striking his spurs, with a terrible oath
He dashed down the line, 'mid a storm of huzzas,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;
By the flash of his eye, and the red nostrils' play,
He seemed to the whole great army to say:
"I have brought you Sheridan all the way
From Winchester town to save the day."

Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man!
And when their statues are placed on high,
Under the dome of the Union sky,
The American soldiers' Temple of Fame,
There, with the glorious general's name,
Be it said, in letters both bold and bright:
"Here is the steed that saved the day,
By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
From Winchester, twenty miles away!"

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The Sword of Robert Lee
By Abram J. Ryan



Forth from its scabbard, pure and bright
Flashed the sword of Lee!
Far in the front of the deadly fight,
High o'er the brave in the cause of Right,
Its stainless sheen, like a beacon bright,
Led us to Victory.

Out of its scabbard, where, full long,
It slumbered peacefully,
Roused from its rest by the battle's song,
Shielding the feeble, smiting the strong,
Guarding the right, avenging the wrong,
Gleamed the sword of Lee.

Forth from its scabbard, high in air
Beneath Virginia's sky_
And they who saw it gleaming there,
And knew who bore it, knelt to swear
That where that sword led they would dare
To follow_and to die.

Out of its scabbard! Never hand
Waved sword from stain as free,
Nor purer sword led braver band,
Nor braver bled for a brighter land,
Nor brighter land had a cause so grand,
Nor cause a chief like Lee!

Forth from its scabbard! How we prayed
That sword might victor be;
And when our triumph was delayed,
And many a heart grew sore afraid,
We still hoped on while gleamed the blade
Of noble Robert Lee.

Forth from its scabbard all in vain
Bright flashed the sword of Lee;
'Tis shrouded now in its sheath again,
It sleeps the sleep of our noble slain,
Defeated, yet without a stain, Proudly and peacefully.

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The Conquered Banner
By Abram J. Ryan



Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary;
Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it_it is best;
For there's not a man to wave it,
And there's not a sword to save it,
And there's not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
Furl it, hide it_let it rest!

Take that Banner down! 'tis tattered;
Broken is its shaft and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered
Over whom it floated high.
Oh, 'tis hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there's none to hold it,
Hard that those who once unrolled it
Now must furl it with a sigh!

Furl that Banner_furl it sadly;
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
Swore it should forever wave_
Swore that foeman's sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
And that flag should float forever
O'er their freedoms or their grave!



Furl it! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low;
And that Banner_it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.

For, though conquered, they adore it_
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it!
Weep for those who fell before it!
Pardon those who trailed and tore it!
But, oh, wildly they deplore it,
Now who furl and fold it so!

Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory,
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory,
And 'twill live in song and story
Though its folds are in the dust!
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages_
Furl its folds though now we must!

Furl that Banner, softly, slowly;
Treat it gently_it is holy,
For it droops above the dead;
Touch it not_unfold it never;
Let it droop there, furled forever,_
For its people's hopes are fled.

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flagTAPSflag
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roseroseroseroseroseroseroseSafely Rest...
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