Cover Photo by Mark R. Day

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Quote:

The dream of every soul is to find love and success and the uniqueness of our human heart is often revealed by the passion we pour into our relationships.  Thus each life is made rich and the dream is fulfilled.



Mark R. Day, 5/21/2016, copyright by Mark R. Day 5/21/2016, all rights reserved

Speech: Address for Lincoln-Cushing Camp Memorial Day Ceremony Old Amphitheater Arlington National Cemetery May 30, 2016



     On May 30th 1868, General James A. Garfield, the future 20th President of the United States, stood at this very lectern and presented the featured oration for the Dedication of this beautiful Amphitheater.  Now the privilege of standing here is mine and we are gathered here to honor the memory all those who rest around us.
     For the past one hundred and forty-eight years this amphitheater has been a symbol of the fulfillment of the Grand Army of the Republics promise to keep green the memory of the Boys in Blue 1861-1865.  Within the columns this amphitheater we have faithfully assembled to perform our solemn duty to remember.  We are summoned as were our forefathers to return to this amphitheater, which marks for us, the heart of this hallowed ground we call Arlington National Cemetery.
     Many Men and Women have come to this place, first as the Grand Army of the Republic and later as the Allied Orders.  Over the years the names, of those standing on this dais, have changed but the purpose has always remained the same.  We come to pay homage to the brave men who sleep upon these rolling hills, embraced in solemnity, peace, and reverence. 
     We also come in part to follow General John A. Logan’s order # 11, which established our tradition of remembrance.  This historic order was the clarion call for a day to be set aside for the purpose of remembrance and it created a compact between the living and the dead that must be reaffirmed by every generation of Americans.
     Much has occurred in the last one hundred forty-eight years.  America has often be forced to deal with challenges, but through it all we have always kept faith with those who perished in the defense of our nation.  We have sent our young men and women, of every race and creed, into conflicts far from home and family to bring hope, equality, and freedom to the oppressed in every corner of this world.
All those years ago General Logan did not know what the future would hold for America but he hoped that Americans would never lose sight of the sacrifice, which had been made to preserve our Union.  I find it only fitting for us to also remember those soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen who’s remains are forever joined, here in this place, with those of the Civil War dead.  Together they form a Legion of Heroes to whom we owe an incredible debt for every breath of air and every blessing of freedom we enjoy.
     In a few minutes we will leave this amphitheater and travel the short distance to the final resting place of thousands of American Civil War unknown dead.  We will place wreaths, render honors, and play taps.  Each of these elements are an essential aspect of our ceremonial act of remembrance.   However, for me it is my personal act of remembrance that matters most.  It is taking time to separate ourselves from the myriad pursuits and problems of daily life to participate in this ceremony that truly counts.
    The old veterans used the phrase “Lest We Forget” as their motto when planning and holding their ceremonies of remembrance.  I believe that phrase contains the essential truth of why we are here today.  In the end it is not a date on a calendar or a specific place that defines Memorial Day; rather it is our individual and corporate dedication to the act of remembrance that has meaning and the ability to draw us together as a people.
    Yes, remembrance is a sacred duty each American must share in but we, the Allied Orders, have an even greater responsibility as leaders in the our communities and the nation as a whole when it comes to emphasizing and committing ourselves to honoring and remembering the fallen.   We must proclaim the motto “Lest we Forget” with every ounce of passion and patriotism we possess.
I ask you now here in this place of honor and respect to join with me in pledging and reaffirming our commitment by saying “We will Never Forget”  “I will Never Forget”
     I thank you for the honor of allowing me to speak to you today, m May the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters be ever with you, and may God grant his grace on the United States of America


Written and presented by Mark R. Day 5/21/2016.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 5/21/2016, all rights reserved.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Speech: To Antietam Camp 2 at their MOH Ceremony, Hessian Barracks, Frederick, Maryland 3/26/2016

Comments for MOH Ceremony, Hessian Barracks, Frederick, Maryland 3/26/2016

Good Morning
What a pleasure it is for me to be here representing Eugene Mortdorf, the Commander in Chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, as we honor Mary Walker the only woman, and one of only eight civilians, to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
My thanks and my admiration go to the Antietam Camp for selecting this incredible woman as their annual honoree.  That Mary walker was in the Avant-Guard of those who struggled for women’s rights and opportunity is clearly evident, but her service during the Civil War and her commitment to the Union Soldiers was perhaps her greatest accomplishment.  
Mary Walker’s MOH was recommended by none less than Generals William T. Sherman and George H. Thomas, two men who knew the meaning of the word Valor, and President Andrew Johnson signed the citation shortly after the war.   However, Mary Walker would find that serving her nation and suffering capture and imprisonment by the Confederacy to receive the award was far easier than the fight she would face to keep it. 
Yes, Mary Walker is due our respect and our attention on this Medal of Honor Weekend and once again I thank the Brothers of the Antietam Camp, who I have come to respect and appreciate for their efforts to hold this ceremony year after year in an effort to inspire and educate our nation’s citizens.  May such ceremonies continue to set an example of patriotism and civic responsibility for the Sons of Union Veterans as an organization and all those who share its goals?

Thank you for your attention and May God bless all America’s heroes and heroines past and present

Comments: Presentation of ROTC Awards to Bedford County Schools Program 8 April 2016

Comments for ROTC Awards Ceremony 8 April 2016


SUVCW Medal

On behalf of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and in particular the Taylor-Wilson Camp of Lynchburg, Virginia I am presenting these awards to Cadet Skylar Stanforth and Cadet Danielle Moore, in recognition of their dedication and personal investment in the JROTC program.   I feel privileged to be in the company of these outstanding youth who represent the dedication to country and the promise of a bright future, we hope every student strives for.



SAR Medal

The Sons of the American Revolution Thomas Jefferson Chapter is pleased to present Cadet Captain Christopher Lacy with the SAR Outstanding JROTC award.  To be a recipient of this award the Cadet must demonstrate sustained superior performance in both JROTC and School activities.  I know he has worked many hours to achieve his success and once again, I find myself privileged to present this award to Cadet Captain Christopher Lacy.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Speech: Comments for the Taylor-Wilson Lincoln Birthday Dinner at Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, VA 24502


 

Brother Mark R. Day Junior Vice Commander in Chief, SUVCW                                            
Comments for the Taylor-Wilson Lincoln Birthday Dinner at Lynchburg College,   2-13-2016

First of all the CinC, Eugene Mortorff, has asked that I extend his greetings to the Brothers of the Taylor-Wilson Camp 10 and the ladies of the Taylor-Wilson Auxiliary.  Gene regrets his inability to be here with us this evening and hopes that everyone enjoys the meal and the entertainment.  

We are here tonight celebrating the birth of President  Lincoln 207 years ago.   Yesterday is was my privilege to join with Brother Mortorff, Brother Martin, Sister Martin, and dozens of other members of the SUVCW and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion in attending the National Celebration of Lincoln's birth held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.  This was my first time attending the event and as I sat only a few yards from the massive statue of President Lincoln I felt, that his eyes were fixed upon me.  I was drawn to return the gaze and soon understood, that  the Presidents face seemed fixed with a purpose.   I don't know if that fixed expression was the message intended by the sculptor, but it was the message sent to me and I could not take my eyes off his face.

As the ceremony proceeded there came a point when a group of students began to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic  and as I listened I closed my eyes, but Lincoln's face remained.  The people in the Memorial were silent as the singers voices resonated from the Marble walls, which bear Lincoln's own immortal words, to a people locked in the struggle of Civil War, and while the words of the song were familiar, in my mind it was as if I was hearing them for the first time, and I felt a sudden rush of emotions. 

I understood that the task, which Lincoln wanted to accomplish, remains unfinished.  I wondered if that resolute face on the statue was remembering the voice of Marian Anderson singing beneath it on the steps of the Memorial after she was denied the right to perform in the Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I wondered if the face of Lincoln had felt the pain of a people when Martin Luther King spoke of his dreams in 1963 and I wondered if the wind had carried the tensions of our recent experiences to brush against his beard.

I will leave you with a quote from a speech given on another cold and blustery day and a reminder:
 "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

We must Remember that, Abraham Lincoln nobly advanced the cause of Freedom, that he is among those honored dead who gave the last full measure, and that we need to take increased devotion to the cause of freedom,  so that he did not die in vain.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Poem: Where "Grace" Begins


"Grace"  is found in many acts

a handshake

a greeting

a smile

an embrace

However it always begins in the heart

for the heart is the home of "Grace"

the heart filled with love creates it

to share with the whole wide world.

 

Written by Mark R. Day 2-7-16.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 2-7-16, all rights reserved.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Journal Entry: Notes made during the observance of the 150th anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House Part 1


Early Thursday morning April 9th, 2015 (150 years)
Between 2:45 am and 3:30 am there was a terrible storm. At times there appeared to be a yellow glow outside of the tent, as the lightning flashed and thunder roared in the pitch black sky. The rain came as alternating sheets of water and then simple droplets, which tapped on the sides of the tent like fingers slowly tapping on a drum. The experience was both exhilarating and frightening simultaneously. I thought throughout the event of those men who, 150 years ago, experienced such wicked storms and spent many dark nights in a field or a forest under circumstances similar to those occurring about me. They had often borne the brunt of nature without tent or blankets. What a hearty breed of men they were, so much braver than myself to take on such conditions and simply continue to soldier on.
What an amazing day 4/9/15 will be. Indeed it began very early, for most everyone was up and about by 4:30 am. Last night's storm had awakened them and few were able to return to slumber. We have eaten breakfast in darkness and are preparing to report to the Battalion Commander by 5:30 am. The First Sergeant and the Captain had us fall in along the narrow dirt road which passes before our camp of dog tents, shebang's, and other assorted forms of cover. I can see that the glowing embers of our campfire are receding from my sight as we march eastward along the road and our mornings work. Arriving at the Brigade Headquarters we joined with several other companies in practicing the stacking of arms and other drill. Soon the order was given to fall in for inspection of our weapons and then we were on the march again by 6:30 am. This time we were going to the rendezvous location to meet the North Carolina Regiments. As we reached the outer edge of the village of Appomattox Court House a halt was called and we once again stacked arms and rested beside a split rail fence that ran along the road. Soon the North Carolina men appeared, we took up arms, and began the march to the breakout reenactment. We marched into the village of Appomattox Court House, past the Court House itself, and onto the Lynchburg Stage Road. Near the McLean House the Brigade was ordered off the road and into a field, on the right of the Stage Road, were we formed into lines of battle. There was a soft haze covering the field and occasionally the shapes of horses and men could be seen in the mist, but they did not move toward our position. Our Colonel ordered our company, the 11th Virginia, to form skirmish lines and move out to probe the field ahead of the main body. A battery of artillery was positioned on the right of my company to ensure that our flank was protected. As we moved out in good order a single line of skirmishers about twenty-five feet apart was established. We moved slowly through the haze covered field and at one point a line of small bushes suddenly appeared ahead of us just feet away. The Captain passed down the command to march obliquely toward a line of trees that began to appear ahead. The trees would offer some cover and allow us to re-align ourselves after the trek through the mist. Suddenly we observed the movement of men and horses about 250 yards ahead on a small hill and we engaged them. The tree line was a perfect place for us and we drove the Calvary off. Shortly after this we were ordered to rejoin the Battalion and later discovered that the Cavalry we fired on was actually Confederate Cavalry who were screening our Battalions movements from a line of Union dismounted Cavalry on a second hilltop a quarter mile away. On our right the Battery of Cannon, which protected our flank began to fire. I assumed they were firing at the Union soldiers hidden on that ridge further ahead of us. The smoke from the Canons mixed with the morning haze to create an impenetrable grey cloud, which obscured all the features of the land and blinded us to the movements of the Union Soldiers. An order came down from the Colonel, "Move Forward". My company was again ordered to form a skirmish line ahead of the Brigade. I could see two other Battalions of Grey Clad men on our left, they were the 44th Virginia and the 26th North Carolina. Slowly we moved forward up the ridge we had seen the Confederate Cavalry upon; earlier that morning. Topping the hill we could see that the Union Army was about three hundred yards away on top of a ridge higher than that we had just climbed. The Captain ordered our skirmish line to halt and prepare to fire and advance against the Union line . Behind and to the left the Three regiments of our Brigade fired a volley in unison and the Rebel Yell could be heard rolling like thunder over the field. Moving on the command of the Captain we began to advance toward the second hill. Our company performed the maneuver perfectly each man waiting on the other to load before firing and moving forward ten yards at a time. We fought our way toward the enemy but soon Union Canon began to fire from behind the hill. Our forward movement was halted by the Canon fire, the enemy soon brought up infantry support, and we were forced to fall back over the ground we had just won. Soon we were back in the tree line we had started from. Once again the Confederate Army would not breakout from Appomattox. Reflecting now upon the engagement, which mirrored the one 150 years before. I could not help but share the anguish and disapointment, which they most surely felt, as we made that long march back to camp.
Epilogue
Re-enacting is truly theater of the real. When you can find yourself able to experience the emotion and find a bond with the men who fought upon the ground of Appomattox Court House; then history can come alive and real knowledge is obtained.