Representative David Byrd: District 71 Capitol Hill Update
May 21, 2020
Memorial Day History
Memorial Day, originally called DecorationDay, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actuarial beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L Sweet, carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. While Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
“Echoes from a Soldier’s Grave”
“Echoes from a Soldier’s Grave” was designated an official veterans poem of the state of Tennessee by House Joint Resolution 248 of the 109th General Assembly in 2016. Senator Joey Hensley and I sponsored the resolution, and it was written by Sergeant First Class Ernest E Sharp, a resident of Lewis County, Tn. Sgt Sharp has passed away, but his poem and service to this country will never be forgotten.
You said go and away I went; I didn’t know where I’d be sent. But I left my home just for you; And vowed to serve the red, white and blue. Now there you are safe and sound; See I didn’t let you down. I died to keep you free; Why don’t you remember me?
Your big football game will soon begin; Now you’re gonna hear our son again. As the band plays loud and clear; “Star Spangled Banner” is what you hear. Now look around at all you hold dear; You know you have no need to fear. Cause I died you’re safe and free; Why can’t you remember me?
It’s Christmas time the family’s all there; Holiday music filled the air. No need to worry about danger at all; Cause somewhere soldiers are standing tall. They gave your freedom whatever the price; Some will make the supreme sacrifice. I am one that died to keep you free; Why can’t you remember me?
Another year will soon end; But for you a new one will begin. Don’t let my death bring you sorrow; Let it bring hope for tomorrow. For I am not asking you to cry; I just lie here and wonder why. I died to keep you free; Why can’t you remember me?
As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the second half of the 111th General Assembly.