Holidays in Appalachia

Memorial Day 2021


The 30th 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, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

—John L. Logan

Pap raised my brothers and me with a healthy dose of thankfulness for the soldiers who stood in the gap and sacrificed for our freedom. He was a Marine during the mid to late 50s, but never served in a direct combat situation. He’d be the first to tell you his time in the armed services was easy compared to those who did see combat, not to mention those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Pap spent a large portion of his service in South America on a ship. I’ve always had horrible motion sickness. Pap told me he had it too…until he was put on the first ship. He said after a few days of misery his body finally adjusted to the motion and he never had to worry about getting motion sickness again.

Over the years Pap shared many a story about his time in service with us, but there were a couple that he never talked about until the year preceding his death.

In the month’s leading up to death Pap shared two heart wrenching stories with Granny about fellow Marines who never made it home like Pap did. I think Pap felt like he had to share the stories of the soldiers he had silently mourned for so many years before he left his ole world.

I’m positive the patriotism Pap instilled in each of his children and grandchildren came from his great respect to every soldier who served; especially those who perished fighting valiantly in battle or while going about their daily service duties giving the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Pap and Paul learned the song “Mansions of the Lord” from the movie We Were Soldiers. The song plays as the credits roll, so a lot of folks missed the song even if they watched the movie. We’ve always called the song Fallen Soldiers. It was only as I researched it’s history that I learned the real title.

Mansions of the Lord (music by Nick Glennie-Smith/Words by Randall Wallace)

To fallen soldiers that are seen
Where no rockets fly nor bullets sing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the mansions of the Lord

No more weeping of our fight
No more searching through the night
Trust in Jesus name eternal life
In the mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry nor children weep
We shall stand and guard though the Angels see
All through the ages bravely keep
The mansions of the Lord
The mansions of the Lord


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  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    I just finished reading the old blog on May29, 2011 titled Memorial Day Thoughts. I told about Alfred in my earlier comment and have saw the moving wall. I have some rubbings of his name not only from the moving wall but the real one in Washington, DC. Tipper your thoughts and the kindness you showed for the lady were very touching to me. The Vietnam War was very real to me as I saw a lot of boys being drafted as soon as they graduated. I did not have to go because of graduating in 1972 and the draft being stopped about that time.

    For someone that may not know, you can google the Vietnam wall and go to the website and make a request for a rubbing of someone’s name and they will mail you one free. They have volunteers that will make one for you.

  • Reply
    Glenda C. Beall
    May 31, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    A wonderful tribute, Tipper, to those who have sacrificed for our country. I had three cousins who were killed in WWII and a neighbor who was killed in Viet Nam. The parents of my cousins never were the same and I think they grieved the rest of their lives. All these men were very young. One of them never saw his son who was born after his daddy died. This day always makes me sad. Good song.

  • Reply
    Karen Hendrick
    May 31, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    I sure did enjoy that song Tipper. Such a wonderful tribute to those who have served and have made this a great nation. God bless America. I believe that Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. Not only was there decorating of the graves but usually a sermon preached and dinner on the ground. It was quite a day of celebration. Have a blessed day – I see where you get your wonderful musical talent.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    May 31, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you so much, Tipper, for this information. I really enjoyed the song – nothing like family harmony. We just go home from visiting the Veterans Memorial in our town. My husband’s grandfather, father, step-father & many friends have their names on the memorial Our grandsons (10 &6) were with us. This is such a part of their heritage. The American Legion in our town is named after my husband’s dad. We should never forget those who fought for our freedom. God bless you & yours!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Just beautiful! I have tears in my eyes.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    May 31, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    tipper thank you for the lovely tribute.
    i know i am also thankful to you and all the hard work you do.
    happy memorial day to all
    sending ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Tipper, thank you for today’ song and blog. Our small country church had 7 boys to serve in Vietnam, all but one made it back home safe. The one that didn’t make it back was Broadus Alfred Whitt, he was my cousin. He along with his young bride, Jean, were two of the finest young Christian people you could ever know. He was the captain or co captain of the first Woodmont High School, Piedmont, SC football team. The football stadium has been named Whitt Memorial Field in honor of him. We can never repay our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they made.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Tipper, you always make me think, and I appreciate so much the informatin you share. Sometimes it helps me clear up the cobwebs! Of all the celebrations and holidays, this is the one that leaves me with the most questions. As children we had a Decoration Day where we accompanied our parents to clean off the graves of family gone before and place fresh flowers on the grave. Even some of the larger commercial cemeteries have that day where graves are covered with flowers. Later on before mowing the cemetery, clean up crew will go remove all the withered flowers.
    Busy with life and working many holidays, I paid no attention to when it started to be called Memorial Day. In our neck of the woods it was the national dedication to remembering and caring for graves of our departed with small flags placed on graves of veterans. The flags became temporarily in short supply the year after 911 (same year we lost our Veteran Dad), and they were actually stolen from graves. I started weathering the flags I placed on his and his friend’s graves so they would not be stolen and resold. Thinking maybe I just had not paid attention I asked my sis, and she agreed we always just took care of family cemeteries on that day. We have always been a patriotic family, and anytime we had the inclination to go visit the cemetery we took flags. I googled, of course, and found I was not entirely off base, but that in the early days even before the Civil War old church and family cemeteries usually had a national clean up day, and sometimes it was called a Homecoming. Dad’s family always had a yearly meeting on his old family farmlater in the Summer they called “Dinner on the Ground.” I no longer attend because it was moved several years ago to an indoor church a couple of miles away. This made all kinds of sense to move indoors, but to me could never be like sitting on those once rough hewn log pews outdoors with ole time preaching, and later exploration and respect to loved ones in the cemetery. I have decided your more isolated areas sometimes have their own traditions that may be different than anywere else in our great nation.

  • Reply
    Dan O’Connor
    May 31, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for your post. I have always felt a deep respect and gratitude for our military folks. I honor them ever day, but especially today.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Thank you for that beautiful tribute to our soldiers! I’ve been thinking of my Uncle Grady this week. He was reported missing in action and about 5 years later they told my Grandparents they had found a piece of his body and it was being shipped back to them. He was laid to rest in National Cemetery at Corinth, MS. He was in his early 20’s. I remember reading a letter he had sent to my grandparents and in it he was looking forward to getting back home to Mississippi. He stated he had made excellent grades on his math tests in the Air Force, but you could read between the lines and see that he was homesick. He said, “Poppa, when I get home, I won’t mind cleaning those ditch banks off at all.”
    WW II – 1924 –1945 8 JAN

  • Reply
    Margie G
    May 31, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I really enjoyed Pap and Paul’s wonderful harmony this morning!!! What a joy and privelage it must be to be surrounded by such musical talent! Have a blessed Memorial Day everybody!!! I’m planning a small get together and worked myself plumb ragged yesterday in preparation. Tipper, I too get motion sick. It’s cost me many trips and in the car with a smoker- well just forget it! I’ve barfed on every small plane I’ve ever rode. I’m THAT PERSON heaving and gagging. When the girls were born, you guessed it- I got sick. When I was in the military- I got sick and the pilots liked to laugh at me as they did maneuvers while I was glad there was a hole under me and beside me. A cruise? Nope- no can do…I’ve been ostracized and laughed at and remember daddy’s brand new Ford Trino. I got sick and he cursed me. I may have been 5 or so. hurl city is awful but you get used to it. Lol

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 31, 2021 at 8:36 am

    We can never, I think, appreciate them as they can each other. And they know it when we don’t. Sadly, human nature is to take for granted what has never been threatened or taken away for a time. They gave up the life the rest of us had at home and with family and missed the simple things we gave little thought to.

    There will be, I suppose, a lot of veterans remembering today those who never made it back. And wondering what ever became of those they have lost touch with. Thanks to each and all, today and every day.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    May 31, 2021 at 8:21 am

    May God bless America and all those who have served.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    May 31, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Thank you for playing this song. Pap and Paul did a wonderful job singing it. Also thank you for your comments about those who served in the military. I was in the Army from August, 1967 to August, 1971. I was never in combat. After basic training and my school I was sationed in Turkey for a year then was stationed at Fort Bragg, N. C. for two and a half years. I was proud to serve my country during a time when military service was not always appreciated. Thank you for this post it means a lot to me. On Memorial Day I always rememer my friend Wylie Phillips who was killed in Vietnam when the truck he was riding in ran over a land mine. Again thank you for helping us remember those who died in service of our county.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 31, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Oh my goodness, Tipper, you had to make me cry in this Monday morning. The song is beautiful and truly felt this Memorial day. A big THANK YOU to all the soldiers who fought to keep this the land of the free and home of the brave!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 31, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Happy Memorial Day to all.

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