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  Memorial Day  

 

The quiet graves of our country's braves
     Through thirty Junes and Decembers
Have solemnly lain under sun and rain,
     And yet the Nation remembers.

The marching of feet and the flags on the street
     Told once again this morning,
In the voice of the drum how the day had come
     For those lowly beds' adorning.

Then swiftly back on Time's worn track
     His three decades seemed driven,
And with startled eyes I saw arise,
     From graves by fancy riven,

The Gray and Blue in a grand review.
     Oh! vast were the hosts they numbered,
As they wheeled and swayed in a dress parade
     O'er the graves where they long had slumbered.

The colours were not, as when they fought,
     Ranked one against the other,
But a mingled hue of gray and blue,
     As brother marching with brother.

And a blue flower lay on each coat of gray,
     Like forget-me-nots on a boulder;
And the gray moss lace in its Southern grace
     Was knotted on each blue shoulder.

The vision fled; but I think our dead,
     If they could come back with the living,
Would clasp warm hands o'er hostile lands,
     Forgetting old wrongs and forgiving.

'Mong the blossoms of Spring that you gather and bring
     To graves that though lowly are royal,
Let the blue flower prevail, though modest and pale,
     Since it speaks of the hue that was loyal.

But tie each bouquet with a ribbon of gray
     And lay it on memory's altar,
For the dead who fought for the cause they thought
     Was right, and who did not falter.

       - Ella Wheeler Wilcox


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