Sunday, May 27, 2012

Decoration Day

Waterloo 1868
In May 1866, a year and a month after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a pharmacist named Henry Welles organized the first "Decoration Day" in his village of Waterloo, in Seneca County, to honor soldiers from New York who had died in the Civil War. On that day, the graves of Union soldiers were decorated with flowers, patriotic bunting was draped on buildings, and veterans of the Union Army paraded down the main street of Waterloo.  

By 1890, all of the northern states had made Decoration Day an official state holiday, celebrated on May 30--a date chosen because it was not the anniversary of any battle. Decoration Day evolved to honor not just the Civil War dead but all who died in war. After World War II, people started calling the holiday Memorial Day instead of Decoration Day, but the name was not officially changed until 1967. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

Decoration Day Parade, Chicago 1912
From the beginning, parades have been a traditional part of observing Memorial Day, and tomorrow the tradition continues in Hudson. Following a commemoration at the war memorial in Seventh Street Park at 10:15 a.m., the parade proceeds down Warren Street to Fourth Street, then turns and heads for the courthouse where the Memorial Day service takes place. Following the service, there's a reception at American Legion Post 187 at 7 Fairview Avenue. 

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