Civil War, Decoration Day, holiday, life, Memorial Day, military brat, research, thoughts, world war I
I’m glad we decided to BBQ on Sunday! It rained all day on Memorial Day. Yesterday wasn’t bad, but today there’s a light rain. It was pretty heavy a little while ago tho. Looks like it’s going to rain fairly solid all day today as well. Never mind, I like a rainy day. It has a certain calming effect. I have my Spotify playing softly in the background and am enjoying my morning coffee. More on that in a bit…
On another note, as I was sitting down and thinking the other day I came to the realization that a great number of people who aren’t militarily connected in some way have no clue as to the meaning of Memorial Day. It’s meant to honor those lives that were lost in service to our country. In fact, it’s original name was Decoration Day. I believe that tradition started not long after the American Civil War. Those thoughts inspired me to do a little research…
I have read that during the inaugural Decoration Day observances in 1866 (which reportedly began in Columbus, Georgia) many Southern participants, especially women, decorated graves of Confederate soldiers. In addition, rather
unexpectedly, they also decorated those of their former enemies who fought for the Union. This novel twist on the holiday quickly came to light up North. Shortly after those first Memorial Day observances across the South, newspaper coverage in the North was highly favorable. One northern paper wrote:
“The action of the ladies on this occasion, in burying whatever animosities or ill-feeling may have been engendered in the late war towards t hose who fought against them, is worthy of all praise and commendation.”
It didn’t take long before Northerners decided that they would not only adopt the Southern custom of Memorial Day, but also the Southern custom of “burying the hatchet.” By the late 1860s, many Americans both North & South had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves and with flowers and flags.
Other reports of mutual kindness circulated in the North, including the gesture of a 10-year-old who had made a wreath of flowers and sent it to the overseer of the holiday, Colonel Leaming, in Lafayette, Indiana, with the following note attached, published in The New Hampshire Patriot on July 15, 1868:
“Will you please put this wreath upon some rebel soldier’s grave? My dear papa is buried at Andersonville, (Georgia) and perhaps some little girl will be kind enough to put a few flowers upon his grave.”
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, who headed a foundation for Union veterans, declared that the entire nation should come together for a day of remembrance on May 30 and decorate the soldiers’ graves with flowers and other tokens to honor their patriotic sacrifice. The date was chosen because no battle had occurred on that day during the war. “Decoration Day,” as Logan called it, caught on, and every northern state had made it an official holiday by 1890.
After World War I, Decoration Day took on a broader significance. Instead of specifically commemorating the Civil War, people started to use the holiday as an opportunity to pay their respects to fallen soldiers from the “Great War” as well. As time went by it came to stand for remembrances for soldiers fallen in all wars.
The holiday was officially renamed “Memorial Day” in 1967, and it became a federal holiday with the ratification of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act the following year.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to acknowledge all military personnel but the day for that is actually in November – Veterans Day. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get up on my soapbox.
In other news, I finally got a chance to try out my Bialetti espresso coffeepot that I mentioned the other day. It truly lives up to all the hype. I used an Italian dark roast and whipped up some cream to make a café au lait. I should have taken a picture but I was too impatient. It’s every bit as good as I was led to believe.
So instead of a photo of my first coffee from my Bialetti and just because it’s a rainy day here is a picture of Mr Parker out in the sun room on this rainy morning.