Civil War photographers showed clearly the horrors of war. Confederate dead in front of Battery Robinette, Corinth, Miss., taken the morning after the attack, Oct. 3-4, 1862. Library of Congress photo. LC-DIG-cwpb-01438 DLC

The Civil War cost the lives of 27,000 Mississippi men, more than 1 of every 3 of the 78,000 who shouldered arms for the state.

Fortunately, this death toll did not include any of the three Poore brothers—Francis Marion, John F. and William Billy.

Even before the end of the war, women’s groups in the South had begun decorating the graves of soldiers. The practice of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, spread around the country after the war. The first national official observance occurred in 1868 when the war’s survivors placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all of those Americans who have died in all wars.

During the Civil War Sesquicentennial once again we hear the voices of those critics who say that many of the observances only glorify war and ignore the ugly horror of men killed, maimed and disfigured. But the truth has always been that men know the horror of war. And they step forward anyway because some things, such as independence and freedom, are worth fighting and dying for. The glory is that, knowing the horror of war, this country’s soldiers have faced death with courage and skill, for no other reason than that their country asked them to do so.

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