Cover them over with beautiful flowers,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,
Lying so silent by night and by day
Sleeping the years of their manhood away.
Give them the meed they have won in the past;
Give them the honors their future forcast;
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer. Most of us plan some sort of festivities during the three-day weekend, perhaps a barbecue or a day at the beach, with friends and family. It is very fitting that at some point during the day, we stop and reflect on the day’s true meaning. Let’s stop for a moment to commemorate those soldiers who gave their lives so we can live ours freely.
While we now observe Memorial Day to commemorate all American soldiers who died while in military service, it started as a way for families to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day because families decorated graves of fallen soldiers with bouquets and wreaths. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In keeping with the origins of Memorial Day, let me tell you about two men – Emmanuel Mayne and his son, LeRoy Mayne, both of whom were killed in the War of Rebellion, the Northern forces’ term for the Civil War.
Emmanuel Mayne was born in Frederick, Maryland. He received a good education and became a teacher and a businessman. He moved his family to Van Buren County, Iowa in 1848. He was one of the founders and a prominent resident of South Vienna, Iowa. In 1851, he was elected as county judge and remained in that capacity until 1857. Then, at fifty-seven years of age, Emmanuel Mayne raised a company of volunteers and was elected Captain of Company G, Third Iowa Calvary in the War of Rebellion. He was killed by the rebels in the Battle of Kirksville, Missouri on August 6, 1862. He is buried in his hometown of Keosauqua, Iowa.
His son, Leroy, was a member of the Second Volunteer infantry and later was transferred to the Third Iowa Cavalry, under his father’s command. In January 1863, he was transferred to the Mississippi Marine Brigade, with the rank of First Lieutenant. In April of the same year, while in command of a flotilla that was passing up the river, the boat he was aboard ran into an obstruction. While he was assisting to free the boat, he was thrown into the river and was drowned. His body was never found, or if found, was never identified.
Emmanuel Mayne was my husband, Chris’, third great grandfather and Leroy Mayne was his second great grand uncle.
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