Monday is Memorial Day when we remember and honor the men and women who gave their life for their country while serving in the armed forces.
Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.
Memorial Day has roots in the time just after the Civil War. At that time it was known as Decoration Day and built on an older pre-Civil War tradition of remembering those who had gone on before us.
The official observance of Memorial Day is to honor those who have died while in service to their country, but it has changed over the years to also include the decoration of family graves even if they did not serve in the armed forces.
I believe that it is very important that we remember the original intent of Memorial Day tomorrow and take the time to honor those who did give their life for our country. We can then take the time to honor our own family members and also spend time with our families. Last year I visited the local cemetery and walked through the many graves of those who had served our country. Tomorrow, I plan on getting to the cemetery early enough to observe the ceremonies honoring our heroes.
I also want to share a little bit of information about one of my family members who died in battle during the Civil War.
I do not have a picture of my third great uncle Ellett Bolin, but here is a picture of my great great grandparents Solomon Row and Mahana Bolen. Ellett was the brother of Mahana. The spelling of the last name differs, but this is very common in the records of the time.
Ellett Bolin was the only son of Thomas and Mary Manly Bolen and had four sisters. Ellett Bolin enlisted in the Iowa Volunteers, Twenty-Eight Infantry, Company I on August 11, 1862. Ellett mustered in on September 13 leaving his family behind in Millersburg, Iowa.
On May 16, 1863 Ellett was wounded in the Battle of Champion Hill/Bakers Creek in Mississippi and was taken prisoner. He was later paroled and rejoined his company.
In early 1864 the disastrous Red River Campaign began and Ellett was killed in action at the Battle of Mansfield/Sabine Crossroads in Louisiana on April 8, 1864. I have searched to see if I can find out where he is buried, but have not yet found the information.
I can only imagine the reaction that the family had to the news that their son and brother had been captured, paroled and then later killed in battle. It must have been a very hard time for the family. Unfortunately, we do not have any family stories from this time that I know about. I do however know what many families have gone through today when they hear news about loved ones who have lost their life in service to their country.
We often forget that the Civil War had the highest death toll of any of our wars. When new soldiers volunteered many men from the same area would often be placed in the same company or regiment. When you had a battle with high casualties there may have been many families in the same area that were mourning.
I have my own set of memories from Memorial Day that cover a wide range of activities. From listening to gun salutes at cemeteries to barbecues, picnics and auto racing they all are special.
Have a great Memorial Day!
Originally written in 2013.