On April 25, 1866 in Columbus, Mississippi, four women met in Friendship Cemetery and laid wreaths of flowers upon the graves of the Confederate soldiers laid to rest there. After the women tended to the graves of the Confederate soldiers the women then placed magnolia blossoms upon the graves of the Union soldiers who were laid to rest nearby, their former enemies. A group of Union soldiers would look on as the women finished all forty of the graves.
Word of the deeds of these women quickly spread across a nation. Humbled by the gesture of the women of Columbus, Horace Greely the editor of the New York Tribune wrote and glowing tribute in an editorial where he said:
"The women of Columbus, Mississippi, have shown themselves impartial in their offerings to the memory of the dead. They strewed flowers alike on the graves of the Confederate and of the National soldiers."
The unprejudiced acts of the women from Columbus would lead to widespread interest in impartial offerings to the memory of the dead and this "healing touch for a nation" would later become known as Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
It is profoundly important to emphasize the impartiality of this solemn occasion, a day when differences are to be put aside for a nation to come together as one and pay homage to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom.
It is also of importance to state what this day is not about. It is not a time for partisian politics or a time to convolute the meaning of "supporting the troops" to suit your own political agenda and that is why I find the actions of people like John Edwards utterly repulsive.
Where is the earnest gesture of humility? To misuse this occasion as an opportunity to instigate others to "take action" supportive of their own political agenda is a mark of disrepect. One that I could never have imagined that a Presidential hopeful would undertake.
"There is a time and a place for everything" it is an eternal aphorism that represents a "compass of morality", one that is meant to guide us in our daily lives. One that guided the women of Columbus, Mississippi and one that John Edwards seems to be without.