Memorial Day Verse and Prayer
EDITORIAL: 'Heavenly Father, on this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the example of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.'
Editor’s Note: These selected words appropriately honor the dead on Memorial Day and possess no less power than when they were first uttered. A prayer is also offered.
Gettysburg Address (1863)
By President Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 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.
Decoration Day (1882)
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers.
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
A Memorial Day Prayer
By the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Heavenly Father, on this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the example of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with your strength and peace.
In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice and, thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.