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Sunday, May 26, 2013

1914 Decoration Day

     If you remember when people called Memorial Day "Decoration Day" then you are probably over 60 years of age.  For me it was my Grandmother who was born in the early years of the 20th century.  She told me about going to a local cemetery where Civil War veterans were buried to put flowers on their graves.  The year was 1914 and her second grade class made this trip as events in Europe were headed into World War I.   She also remembered seeing Civil War veterans marching in local parades during this time.  Somehow the change in the name of the holiday didn't stop her from calling it Decoration Day even after it had long since changed names.  I bet if you ask anyone under 30 years old today what holiday was called Decoration Day they would be mystified.  For a little history on the day I went to Answers.com:

     "Decoration Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate those who had died during the US Civil War. After World War I, which officially ended in 1919, Decoration Day was expanded to honor all military personnel who had died during any war or military action in which the United States had been involved. It was after this time that Decoration Day began to be known as Memorial Day. But it was not until 1967 that President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the legislation officially renaming the holiday as Memorial Day."
     "On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I."

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