From the May 30, 1919, issue of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune, as America was still recovering from both World War I and the 1918-1919 flu epidemic.
They sleep the long sleep, but their deeds of valor live after them. They are the men — and the women — who crossed the bar with hearts unafraid. They call to us out of the far past and the near past to be true to that for which they strove. We answer them with special unction today, pledging with song and speech and garlands and blooms, but we fail our part if we do not keep the answer ringing day in and day out; and if we do not answer as they would have us answer.
Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural, spoke of “the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land.” If he were alive today and should speak that beautiful sentiment again, he would have the mystic chords stretching also across the seas from patriot graves in other lands.
Fifty thousand of the kind of American men that Mr. Lincoln loved and trusted fell on alien soil in the last two years and they rest there today — most of them under the sod of France. Flowers will rain on the places where they sleep, some from comrades who live and many from the peasants of France whose hearts prompt that they make shrines of memory of these patriot graves.
These 50,000 are among those who call to us with mute eloquence. The purpose of their striving was kindred to that of the earlier martyrs of freedom who wove their spirit into the fabric of the flag. Theirs is the newer appeal, but not more moving than the appeal that reaches over a broader span of time and of national growth.
Specially tender thoughts of the American people will converge today upon the homes where war has made its human breaches. It is the day of the golden star; the day when the living confess by lip the gratitude they feel in their hearts; the day when the laurel and the bay give added fragrance to cherished memories of the dead who died in vicarious sacrifice.
The Nation keeps itself in truer tune throughout the year by such consecration as it will show this day. It is fit that renewals of the pledge of devotion should come at a season when Nature has renewed itself out of the seeming death that winter laid upon it.
As the flowers spring up again and the woods take on once more their greenery, so the spirit of the soldier dead renews itself in the great American heart. Memorial Day is, to speak in floral terms, the annual, but the purpose and the love that lie back of it are perennials.