Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, honors the men and women who died while serving the U.S. Military. It originated in the years after the Civil War when communities in the North and South decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers. (Photo/

By Todd Young
May 27, 2024

When a train returned the body of Col. Sion Bass to Huntington County in April 1862, a crowd of grateful Hoosiers gathered to receive him.

The following day, Bass was laid to rest at Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne. A monument, made of sandstone, was later placed over his grave, a gift of his former regiment. It still stands today, though, poignantly, not quite in the same form.

While serving in the Union Army, Bass was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh and died seven days later. He is believed to be the first fallen solider from Fort Wayne during the Civil War, and one of Indiana’s earliest sons who perished in that conflict.

Bass is one of the thousands of Hoosiers, and more than half a million Americans, who have given their lives in defense of our liberties in conflicts around the globe. This weekend, we honor and pay tribute to every single one of these heroes.

In doing so, we will rightly remember the valor and fortitude of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, just as the people of Fort Wayne did after the death of Bass.

But it is selflessness, as much as courage or strength, that defines the American service member. Surrendering one’s life for the liberty of generations unborn is an act of incredible generosity.

Though the debt we owe our fallen can never be repaid, it is our most basic duty to always honor and never forget their example. We should revere their memory in the same manner we revere our flag.

Hoosiers, of course, know this. On Memorial Day, all across Indiana, you will find tributes to our glorious dead. You can lay flags and flowers at monuments and memorials that keep their example alive.

Or even help protect their final resting place. In 2020, over a century and a half since the death of Col. Bass, the citizens of northeast Indiana not only cleaned and repaired his monument but added a spire that had been originally planned but never placed over Bass’s grave. Now it will stand for years come, an example of a hero’s sacrifice and the gratitude of Hoosiers.

Regardless of our differences, let us unite this Memorial Day to remember our fallen heroes and say thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1995 and accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2000, he was honorably discharged as a Captain. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. The views expressed are those of the author only.

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