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Posted 5/31/12 (Thu)
McClusky Memorial Day speaker explains decorate
By ALLAN TINKER
Specialist Jennifer Joyce, 116th Public Affairs Detachment, Bis-marck, was the speaker for the McClusky American Legion James Roberts Post 124 Memorial Day program. Joyce explained the term “decorate,” in reference to the former term for the observance: “Decoration Day.”
Decorate can simply mean to adorn or beautify, she stated. That, as a nation, we have mastered decorating pretty much everything: cars, houses, yards, celebrations and holidays.
“We are pretty good at it. In fact, last year Americans spent about six billion dollars to decorate for Christmas alone,” she emphasized.
“Decorate has a more noble origin; In Latin, the root “decus” means honor (pride and dignity; distinction and glory; grace and beauty. In ancient Rome, a military decoration was all those things.
“Roman soldiers were awarded crowns, necklaces and armbands to wear as signs of their valor; but our military decorations had a more humble beginning. In fact, it was a simple piece of cloth, a decoration that may have saved our Army.
“At the end of the Revolutionary War,” George Washington’s Con-tinental Army had really been through the wringer. Supplies were scarce and the rations were pretty meager.
“Historian John Ferling wrote ‘That the army did not implode in a frenzy of mutinies long before 1781 was little short of miraculous,’” said Joyce.
Without the authority to honor their soldiers’ courage with battlefield commissions, (the only way commanders could reward their soldiers up to that point) these commissions would bring no benefit. Congress couldn’t even afford to pay their currently assigned officers, let alone pay newly commissioned officers.
So, for the most part, the service and bravery of America’s soldiers went unrecognized and unrewarded.