Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.
I was originally thinking about showing some of those in my family who have served in the military, but after re-reading the true purpose of Memorial Day, I’ll save that for Veteran Day.
I would like to honor my father, Harry Otto Boles. He fought in World War I, went to France, and was in the trenches that the enemy used Mustard Gas on. He suffered for many years from that incident. Then at 53 years of age, he died from stomach related problems because of having been gassed. Here are copies of his transportation over to France and then his departure for home.
These are the passenger list and photo of ship when he returned from France:
Name Harry O. Boles, Departure Date 26 Aug 1919, Departure Place Brest, France, Arrival Date 5 Sep 1919, Arrival Place Hoboken, New Jersey
The Caisson Song was the song that was the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery’s regimental march later became the Artillery and then the Army Song. The battalion was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and was among the first U.S. units sent to France in 1917 during World War I. The unit deployed as the 5th Field Artillery Regiment to fight at Montdidier-Noyon, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Lorraine 1917, Lorraine 1918, and Picardy.
- Over hill, over dale,
- We will hit the dustry trail,
- And those Caissons go rolling along.
- in and out, hear them shout!
- Counter marching all about,
- And those Caissons go rolling along,
- For it’s high high he,
- In the Field Artillery,
- Shout out your “No” [numbers] loud and strong,
- For wher-e’er we go,
- You will always know,
- That those Caissons go rolling along.
After reading about what the 1st Division, 5th Field Artillery went through, I am very thankful that my father was not killed then. If he had, I would not be writing this post. I would not be here. Praise the Lord for the mercy He showed to my father, and his future descendants. I was only four years old when his injuries finally took his life. [I was born in 1943 and he died in 1947]
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalms 20:7 KJV)
Talking to my brother this evening, I learned that according to our aunt Goldie, dad was a very robust individual when he left for WWI. He came home very much weakened. He never really recovered fully. She also told my brother that my father had been only one of 11 that survived in some battle. [I haven’t had time to research that.]
Here are two more interesting things about this WWI battle, where the troops were gassed:
This article tells about what our troops went through in France to help those in need. May America always be willing to defend freedom:
The American 5th Division and Gas Warfare, 1918
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:7 KJV)
“In the years following the Civil War, Memorial Day celebrations were scattered and, perhaps unsurprisingly, took root differently in the North and South. It wasn’t until after World War II that the holiday gained a strong following and national identity, and it wasn’t officially named Memorial Day until 1967.”
“The final event that cemented the modern culture of Memorial Day in America was in 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act, designating Memorial Day as the last Monday in May rather than May 30, as it had previously been observed. This ensured a three-day weekend and gave the day its current status as the unofficial beginning of summer, mixing serious reflection with more lighthearted fun.” [Times Article]
Thanks, Lee. Very helpful words of reminder, of how much we owe gratitude to and for, ultimately, due to God having provided us with our American legacy of faith and freedom.
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Thanks, Dr. Jim. It was a hard article to write. Tears blurred the screen from time to time.