On Memorial Day, in Dorset, there is a service of remembrance in the church, followed by a parade. The mood during much of the church service is appropriately solemn and grave. The point, after all, is to remember and honor the sacrifice Americans have made in war. When the Gettysburg address is read in the church, you feel like you might be hearing the words for the first time and a lump rises in your throat. … 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 …
And, then, there is the reading of the names of all the men who have gone off to war from the little town of Dorset and given that last full measure of devotion. Every name. And the name of the conflict in which they perished.
For the largest majority, by far, that conflict was the American Civil War. We all know that it was a terrible and bloody conflict. But hearing those names read off the roll, one after another, drives the point home. So many, you think, from this little town. Almost insupportable.
I’m struck, every year, by this reading. And by the name of the battlefield where so many of those men died.