Memoralizing on Memorial Day

by Oldbabe May. 26, 2008 3000 views


Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army
of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on
the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above
them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor;
let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred
charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

By order of


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868”


N.Y. Times; Dec 5, 1870

From address by Hon. William M. Evartl

…But be sure that a war, such as we know our civil war to have been, is the severest and honestest and the most
intelligible lesson that a people ever had occasion to learn; that, in the language of Scripture, ‘Wisdom is better than weapons of war;’ that for a nation to espouse the cause of liberty and justice at the cost of war is a very different thing from a nation's disposition to espouse the cause of war at the cost of liberty and justice.

And by the same schooling that has made us ready to repeat, if need be, every measure of our past sacrifice for great moral purposes in the good of our nation and of the world, we have learned that war for war is neither fanciful nor poetical , but involves sufferings which are only justified by the grade and firmness of the virtue on which they rest.
I spent a greater part of the day doing what was intended for this holiday…remembering dead veterans. I remember hating history in school. It seemed it was all about wars and memorizing dates. It had no relevance for me. And then I discovered genealogy - the study of the history of my ancestors - and suddenly history was interesting. I'd like to go back in time and talk to some of them about their experiences. I have a million questions for all of them. But today, all I do is remember some of the veterans of the family.

…with liberty and justice for all.

Abraham Smith (1795-1871) was my 3rd great grandfather. His grave used to have a War of 1812 marker on it. As far as I can tell from research I have done, he was part of Ingersoll's Sea Fencibles.

On July 26, 1813, during the War of 1812 with the United Kingdom, the United States Congress passed "An act to authorize the raising of a corps of Sea Fencibles … not to exceed one year , and not to exceed ten companies who may employed for the defense of the ports and harbors of the United States…"

The War of 1812 is one of the forgotten wars of the United States. The war lasted for over two years, and while it ended much like it started; in stalemate; it was in fact a war that once and for all confirmed American Independence.

I would like to remember him with some daisies. Daisies are a wildflower in Iowa. I would like to think as he traveled from North Carolina to Indiana to Iowa, where he finally settled, that he saw many.

Three McNally boys- Thomas (1835-1925), Myles Jr (1842-1929) and Alexander (1847-1936) - , 2 of them half-brothers and the other a brother of my great grandfather, Ed McNally, fought on the Union side during the War of the Rebellion or Civil War. It's hard to believe it was only my great grandfather's generation that fought in the Civil War but there was a 20 or so year difference between the oldest child and the youngest child of Myles McNally Sr. The family had 13 children - three were born in Ireland- and there their mother died probably during the Great Famine. Myles brought the oldest children to America and settled in Wisconsin where he married again. My great grandfather was not born until 1864. His siblings were off fighting then.

All 3 McNally boys served in Co. D, 17th Wisconsin Infantry which later became the Army of the Tennessee (not to be confused with the confederate Army of Tennessee). The Army of the Tennessee never lost any of its major campaigns during the war and amassed what was probably the best combat record of any Union army.

Thomas enlisted Feb 11, 1862 and deserted Feb 8, 1863. I don't know any more of his story.

Myles Enlisted March 10, 1862 at age 19 and served until the close of the war. He was discharged Apr 5, 1865. He was wounded in the leg in the Battle of Corinth but later served under General Sherman in his historic march through Georgia and the Carolinas. His obit states in part: “ His record as a soldier was that of a man unafraid-brave,true, and patriotic, ready and willing to suffer hardship and danger and to die, if need be, for the cause which he believed to be worth the sacrifice.”

Alex McNally “joined up” when he was only 16 and served from January 1863 until Aug 14, 1865. He survived the war unscathed only to severely injure his arm in a threshing accident in 1876.

I would like to place some rhododendrons on their graves. I remember seeing the most beautiful rhodies growing wild when I visited Ireland in 1998.

Charles Joynt was my grandfather's cousin. He was in the Signal Corp during WWI. A letter he wrote home to a sister appeared in the newspaper in 1918.

Emmetsburg Democrat; Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa; Wednesday, August 7, 1918

Charles Joynt Is at Place Where Charles Mortel Defeated the Saracens in 732
in One of the Decisive Battles of the World.

Tours, France
June 26, 1918

Dear Sister:
How are all the folks at home? I am fine and dandy. I suppose you were surprised when you found that I had started across. Did you receive the card I mailed notifying you of the safe arrival of our ship? We had good weather and a mild sea. I was not a bit sea sick.
This country is much different from the United States. It keeps one busy looking around. The country is beautiful. We do not see large farms like those in the United States. The land is divided into patches of perhaps an acre and every inch of the patch is put to use.
The weather here is very fine. I hope it will continue so.
Do you know where Will Reinders was sent? We are still all together but I think we shall soon be sent to different places.
I have not seen a frame building since I came to France. The houses and other buildings here are of stone and cement stucco. The wagons and buggies have only two wheels. They are drawn by one horse.
I wrote you a letter while on the boat. I hope you received it. Please tell my friends to write to me. A word from the U.S.A. goes good over here.
I shall close now. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain,

Your loving brother,
Charles A Joynt
Second D.N. Co. F.
S.C. via New York
Care Chief Signal Officer.

He gets a tomato plant for his grave. After 3 Joynt brothers, came to America and settled in Iowa, they and some of their descendants became successful farmers. A lot of them are still farming the same land this day.

My father-in-law, John Labath Sr (1925-2006), served in Co E, 329th Infantry. Enlisted April 26, 1944. Discharged May 11, 1946. Injured in Belgium Jan 10, 1945 - wounded in action by enemy shell fragments, he received a purple heart.

He has no grave. He deeded his body to science. I offer him a “lily of the valley”. He told me one time it was his favorite flower. I'm sorry it's so blurry and there aren't many.

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There are 10 comments , add yours!
Cathrine Stewart 12 years, 7 months ago

Very lovely memorial post. It is very caring and full of thought, they would be blessed knowing a relative would carry on a wonderful memorial of their stories. I hope someone will do the same for me someday.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Tracy 12 years, 7 months ago

Beautiful tribute.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Bertram J Chatham 12 years, 7 months ago

Your post is a powerful reminder of our obligation to remember. With liberty and justice for all, indeed!

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Marsha 12 years, 7 months ago

You have a way of making YOUR history come to life for me. Thanks so much for sharing.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Julie 12 years, 7 months ago

What beautiful tributes to your relatives and ancestors. I really like the flower dedications. Your are so thorough and thoughtful with your historical posts. Kudos!!
May God Bless these gentlemen's families that have lived on.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Glennis 12 years, 7 months ago

A wonderful tribute!So nice that you have traces of your ancestors!

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Tom Thompson 12 years, 7 months ago

Wow Oldbabe you did awesome :) What a fantastic and wonderful post, This was a real good tribute to your family and to the soldiers who gave their lives to this great country of ours. Thank you

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Lynda 12 years, 7 months ago

What a truly fascinating history of some members of your family and a heartfelt tribute. I am consistently impressed with your posts. Thanks for sharing.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Jacki 12 years, 7 months ago

This is a beautiful tribute to the veterans of your family. It seems you have done a LOT of genealogy work... it's always good to have someone in the family to record our history. Nicely done!

12 years, 7 months ago Edited
Tamara Harden 12 years, 7 months ago

Wow, you sure know alot about your family history!! What a nice tribute. One can only imagine how it must've been back then, to travel (by ship) to an unknown country, without the benefit of the internet. They truly, went into the unknown.

12 years, 7 months ago Edited