The Music of Memorial Day

Credit: Arlington National Cemetery / Elisabeth Fraser
A Salute To Those Who Died For Our Country on Memorial Day 

On Music 101 this week, we’d like to honor our country’s fallen soldiers.  

Some history that can put the music in perspective: The “Memorial Day” name was used for the first time in 1882; prior to that the May holiday was known as “Decoration Day.”

Use of the term “Memorial Day” entered the national lexicon soon after WWII, and in 1967, Memorial Day was declared the official name by the federal government. Most of the music on this week’s program is from after WWII – “Taps” sees its origins from the middle of the 19th century.

Image courtesy: Legion Magazine, from “In Flanders Fields’; recited by Leonard Cohen

Since then, it’s been a day of respect, of reverence, and honor for all those who died in service of the United States. To quote Abraham Lincoln: “Soldiers who died gave the last full measure of devotion.”

Below, the solemn and moving songs from Memorial Day on Music 101.

This week’s tracklist

A.A. Bondy “Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier”
Leonard Cohen “In Flanders Fields”
Caroline’s Spine “Sullivan”
Sons Of The Pioneers “Gold Star Mother With The Silvery Hair”
Bruce Springsteen “The Wall”
Chumbawumba “Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire”
Dixie Chicks “Traveling Soldier”
Tom Waits “Soldier’s Things”
The Kinks “Some Mother’s Son”
The Doors “The Unknown Soldier”
The Decemberists “16 Military Wives”
George Jones “50,000 Names (Carved On The Wall)”
Jason Isbell “Dress Blues”
Tim Buckley “Once I Was”