As we celebrate Memorial Day, I thought it would be nice to bring you a Memorial Day celebration from Yellow Springs’ past. Based on the style of clothing and the number of stars on the American flag, this photograph of the Clark Grocery store appears to have been taken around Memorial Day circa 1912. (Clark Grocery was located on Xenia Avenue). Among the patriotic decor is the quote, “Cheers for the living, tears for the dead.” This was part of a famous Memorial Day speech of Robert Ingersoll, a Civil War Veteran, political leader, and orator. Ingersoll delivered this speech in 1876, in Indianapolis, to a group of Civil War Veterans. A larger portion of Ingersoll’s speech reads, “These heroes are dead. They died for liberty — they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Palace of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars — they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead.”
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