Rememories: Decoration Day
Posted on 31 May 2010
We have a long tradition in my mother's family surrounding Memorial Day.
It all started after the Civil War when ladies from the South visited local cemeteries to honor their loved ones by placing flowers and attending their sons and husband's grave sites.Â With a shared maternal experience these women began to dress and attend the Union soldier's graves as well, sympathizing with mothers and wives of the Northern soldiers who were unable to attend their soldiers graves.Â Â For a nation that was trying to mend a bitter split, this small gesture was welcomed and helped lay to rest the division between the North and South.
"Decoration Day" caught on and eventually turned into "Memorial Day".
[caption id="attachment_3995" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Decoration Day at the Turn of the Century"]
Jump a couple of generations:
Mom tells us how she remembers cutting huge amounts of flowers from my great-grandmothers garden, placing them in water buckets and then ferrying them to our family cemetery to place them on all of the grave sites.Â The adults would weed and rake the grave sites while the kids placed flowers and American flags.
[caption id="attachment_3994" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Memorial Day ca. 1950"]
Jump another generation:
I remember going with my grandparents and aunts and uncles and doing the same.Â As the grownups would weed and rake, my cousins and I would place flowers and flags on the graves.
The difference? ... the flowers were plastic and us city kids were easily distracted chasing giant grasshoppers and sand lizards.
Jump another generation:
My cousin Micheal who still lives on the family farm stepped up and assumed the cemetery responsibilities since all of us cousins had scattered to the four corners of the earth.Â We were visiting one day, several years back, and reminiscing about our childhood Memorial Days and decided our children needed to understand this part of our heritage.Â We decided to reinstate our family's Memorial Day tradition.Â So we did.
The difference now?Â Â ... the flowers are polyester, but that's OK because we added a delicious potluck picnic to the tradition.
The kids still put out the flags and flowers.
They still chase the grasshoppers and lizards,
and last time they all ended up swimming in the creek.
[caption id="attachment_3996" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Memorial Day 2004 - Sam & Jack"]
photo credits: The top image and the second image are not mine.