Let Our Flag Wave Over Them, Let Our Flowers Deck Their Graves

“The graves of our dead soldiers command the respect…of all. Particularly this year, when there are at Arlington a large number of new-made mounds; when or the hillsides of Cuba and Porto Rico, and about the swamps of the Philippines, other American soldiers are buried, we should think of and decorate the graves of our heroic dead. 

“…It will perpetuate the spirit of patriotism in our youths and help them to emulate the example of the men who died bravely, not only in our Civil War, but in our recent war with Spain. The idea of and the ceremonies of Decoration Day are beautiful. Its purpose is commendable. This year, of all years, should be observed with patriotic devotion. 

“During the last twelve months, nearly twelve million people who were living under a tyranny and despotism have been freed from their serfdom and have become a part of the population of these great United States. Those among them who really know the changed condition hail the change with joy and gladness. Their gratitude is like that of Lazarus toward Christ. They realize that the American people has not been slow to offer the flower of its manhood to rescue them from thralldom and that, if it is given time, it will establish a stable government under which they can live in peace and happiness. Of course, I do not know more than any one else what is likely to happen in the Philippines. With other good citizens. I hope that the contest will be short and that the people in our new possessions will be willing to listen to reason instead of compelling us to further use force. Our troops there have manifested the same bravery, the same heroic fortitude and spirit of self-sacrifice as were shown in Cuba and Porto Rico, and have been shown since the beginning of American history, and as will be shown until American history ends. We have lost good men. In warfare, those who die are naturally those whom we consider best. 

“When Memorial Day comes, there will be new graves. Out at Arlington now the freshly turned earth shows where the men who died in Cuba and Porto Rico lie buried. Not all of them are dead. Green mounds on the sides of the hills near Guasimas and about San Juan, will be decked with the red, white and blue on the 30th of May. The men who died in Cuba, the men who died in Porto Rico, the men who died and are dying in the Philippines, are just as much entitled to commendation and consideration as the men who died in any war in our history. 

“Let our flag wave over them, let our flowers deck their graves wherever they may be…let our respect, let our love, wreathe their memories. 

“Heroes all! They deserve all that we can grant them —they deserve more than we can give them!”

– General Nelson A. Miles, Commander-in-Chief, U.S.A.

Source: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA)., May 28, 1899, Page 25, Image 25