Holidays in Appalachia

Those That Gave All

crosses in cemetery

Memorial Day was created to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War and was originally called Decoration Day. John L. Logan is largely responsible for organizing the day, and in 1868 declared:

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.

In 1971 Congress officially declared Memorial Day to be an official holiday occurring on the last Monday in May to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in the Armed Forces of The United States of America.

Pap stressed the importance of honoring Veterans, especially those who sacrificed their life, to my brothers and me. Sometimes he’d tell stories from his Marine days.

He told us about every day things like eating bananas straight off the tree for the first time in South America and more serious thing like his unit being on high alert for a period of time that delayed Pap’s discharge.

In the few months before his death he talked often of the men he served with, mostly he talked of the ones that didn’t come home with him.

Some stories of soldiers who gave all were ones we’d never heard. I guess over the years Pap couldn’t bear to talk about them, but when he knew his last days were passing swiftly by he felt the need to tell their story. Granny said he cried as he told her some of them.

On this Memorial Day I’m thankful to the men who served with Pap and gave their life for the good of me and I’m thankful for all the others who died in service. Studying and honoring their ultimate sacrifice is something I should do more once a year.


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  • Reply
    Brenda Moore
    May 25, 2020 at 5:35 pm


  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 25, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I love the way you talk about Memorial Day or Decoration Day. It reminds me of my uncle-in-law, Elda’s man who was Killed in the Hitlar war. ( WW2 ). This was the oldest of the two girls that was Daddy’s sister, she lived in Franklin somewhere. I imagine she’s re-united with her husband by now, ( Can’t think of his name right now, but he was a Solesby from Nantahala. ) I think Myrtle Solesby was his sister.

    Wars left a lot of People empty, but they’ll all get to be together soon. That’s God’s Promise to those that Believe on Him. I miss my Daddy and Mama and all my Brothers. …Ken

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Sadly so many do not realize or honor those who gave all for or freedom! I lost ancestors, relatives and friends to pay for the ability of those of us left behind to make our personal decisions. It is time for all legal citizens to thank those who gave all for us to truly thank and show our appreciation for their sacrifice and the grief their families paid for our freedom!

  • Reply
    Carolyn Anderson
    May 25, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for putting this on your site. It means so much to so many people. Thanks to people like you that tell the meaning of Memorial Day Celebrations. Thanks to all the men and women that served our country and gave their life for the freedom that we have today. God Bless our Men and Women that are serving all over the world now, so that we can be free to do the things that we choose in this country. God Bless Them…

    • Reply
      May 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      Yes, you are so right, Carolyn! Thanks, Tipper!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    So true for us all …. every day, and in real tangible ways when opportunities you might be given come .

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    May 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for your post, it reinforces my need to remember and be thankful to those that gave their life so I can enjoy the many blessings I have.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 25, 2020 at 9:50 am

    My Dad and two of his brothers and my Wife’s Dad were in WW2. Just an interesting side note. One of the Uncles was in the last of the horse calvary in the 1930’s. Although they all made it home safe many didn’t.
    We visited my Dad’s grave yesterday and my Wife placed flowers on a cousins grave. He was an Army Vietnam Veteran but none of his immediate family lives close so every year she buys flowers for his grave.

  • Reply
    Margie Herter
    May 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I did not know Memorial Day was founded in honor of fallen Civil War soldiers so I learned something ( as I usually do from you, Tipper.) Here’s a special Thank You to all veterans out there who have to be the most selfless people I know and strong, tough, resilient, street smart and independent thinkers!!!! Some talk the talk. Veterans walk the walk! And thank you, Miss Tipper, for adding a bit of interest and spice to my life’s daily activities.

    • Reply
      May 25, 2020 at 11:26 am

      This day always brings back childhood memories of going from small local cemeteries and church yards with our Dad and his fellow American Legion members. The women would bring flowers tied with patriotic ribbons. After the flowers had been placed at some of the heardstones.
      One of he men, always very somber, would say some words about “because of these that lay here.”
      Followed by seven of the Dad’s shooting rifles three times. They did these same things at every graveyard.
      We were small children, we liked the gathering, decorations, and knowing the day would end with a picnic of all the families.
      Passing years have educated me on the importance of this Hallowed Day , this Memorial Day.
      What I recall as an outing, was in fact fresh reality in the hearts of these families.
      Dad’s brother was killed in Belgium in WWII, they received word he was MIA the day l was born.
      In my adult years having brothers, cousins, nephews, and classmates bravely serving in Vietnam and Irag Wars has clarified that the offen stated. “Freedom is not free” is unfortunately true.
      May the Lord comfort all you Gold Star Families.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    May 25, 2020 at 9:26 am

    God bless the men who served, and the ones who have passed from us.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2020 at 9:08 am

    The Civil War would be a good place to start the honors. All wars were fought with brave men and women who contributed to our freedom. Unlike Pap, my ex-husband refused to talk about anything he experienced in Vietnam. I am going to visit a cemetery about 25 miles away that has a veteran’s section. With all the flags and visitors kneeling, praying and crying makes it is a beautiful and emotional sight to see on Memorial Day.

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    May 25, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Thank you for sharing Pap’s story this Memorial Day, Tipper!….It brought home once again the gratitude I feel for those members of my fellow military soldiers going all the way back to the Revolutionary War…..I served our country in the US Army from 1970-72 during the Vietnam War and am proud to have done so!…..God Bless America!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 25, 2020 at 8:47 am

    It is a common attitude that the young take risks because they are over-confident nothing bad will happen to them or, if it does, they will be able to handle it. Not much gets said or written about those who see the risk with clear eyes and accept death or wounding can happen to them because they judge what the risk is taken for is worth it. And those who gave their all didn’t just lose their lives as a single event in time but lost all the possibility their living would have meant; years with their sweetheart or husband or wife, children unborn or who grew up without them, grandchildren unborn, accomplishments never reached.
    Add to that the foreknowledge that those who have never risked in the same way will never fully understand or appreciate it. Add the understanding that the loved ones left behind will have a long life of mourning. Then we can dimly see how much was given and how much honor is due, not just to those who gave all, but also to those who were ready to.

    We remember what you did for us. Thank you today and every day.

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    May 25, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Thanks to all that gave. Thank you for reminding us why we have this holiday. As you said we should do this more often thru out the year.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 25, 2020 at 6:57 am

    Well said, Tipper, and I add my thanks to the men who served so that we can be free today!

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