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I should probably have saved this post until the 4th of July, but I wanted to share it with you today. Memorial Day today is a celebration. It marks the beginning of summer with parades and picnics. When I was younger, it meant the first long weekend at the ocean in Ocean City, MD and the beginning of pool season. The end of school was right around the corner. I never really thought about the meaning behind it. But Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is the day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

In my family, I don’t know of anyone who was killed during the Wars. But, I have been fortunate to connect with a cousin, Ralph, via the internet, who has, in his possession, a journal of sorts. It is a story of his great-grandparents, Charles Ebenezer and Orpha Elvira Ballou Barnes, who married in DuPage Co., IL, during the Civil War days. The journal was written by two of their daughters, Mary and Jessie. It’s not necessarily a story of remembrance of one who died, but of a family that lived and continues to live in this country we share. Here’s an excerpt. (You can click on the journal pages so they will open larger in another window.)

“Charles Barnes was born June 3, 1817 in Rutland, Vermont. The Congregational Church had gained a stronghold in the New England states. William Barnes, and Mary, his wife, joined this church. Their three sons, Charles, Horace and Loren, also joined this church in early youth. This was the day of the beginnings of our national history as a new world democracy. It was the period of simplicity, courage and bravery. To these stalwart men and loyal, courageous women, we today owe much.
The Christian home at the time of these forefathers became the nation’s strength and pride. Because of such homes as those of William Barnes, I and William Barnes, II, our nation leads the world in the democratic principles of personal liberty and justice. For these are the outgrowth of the early Christian homes of America.”

Charles Ebenezer & Orpha Elvira Ballou Barnes

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