Memorial Day: Kneel Where Our Loves Are Sleeping

While some would have you believe that Memorial Day was instituted “to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War”, that’s not exactly true. Organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War, and layed the groundwork for the later recognized holiday.  A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”

The attempts by historical revisionist continues to amaze me; just more evidence that reconstruction of the Southern mind has not been a complete success, and another reminder that Southerners still have something the Yankees want to steal – our minds and the truth of the war. Point: the bullets may have stopped flying, but the war’s not over. Deo Vindici!

jacksons_grave_1866a

Ladies decorating the grave of Thomas J. “Stonewall Jackson”, 1866

Kneel Where Our Loves Are Sleeping
Dedicated to The Ladies of the South who are decorating the graves of the Confederate Dead

Kneel where our loves are sleeping, Dear ones days gone by,
Here we bow in holy reverence, Our bosoms heave the heartfelt sigh.
They fell like brave men, true as steel, And pour’d their blood like rain,
We feel we owe them all we have, And can but weep and kneel again.

CHORUS
Kneel where our loves are sleeping, They lost but still were good and true,
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting, We weep, ‘tis all that we can do.

Here we find our noble dead, Their spirits soar’d to him above,
Rest they now about his throne, For God is mercy, God is love.
Then let us pray that we may live, As pure and good as they have been,
That dying we may ask of him, To open the gate and let us in.

CHORUS
Kneel where our loves are sleeping, They lost but still were good and true,
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting, We weep, ‘tis all that we can do.”

(Words by G.W.R. Music by Mrs. L. Nella Sweet, 1867)

Ode: Sung on the Occasion of Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, S.C., 1867
by Henry Timrod

Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause;
Though yet no marble column craves
The pilgrim here to pause

In seeds of laurel in the earth
The blossom of your fame is blown,
And somewhere, waiting for its birth,
The shaft is in the stone!

Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years
Which kept in trust your storied tombs,
Behold! your sisters bring their tears,
And these memorial blooms

Small tributes! but your shades will smile
More proudly on these wreaths to-day,
Than when some cannon-moulded pile
Shall overlook this bay.

Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
There is no holier spot of ground
Than where defeated valour lies,
By mourning beauty crowned.

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