Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day in Hudson

Tomorrow, Memorial Day will be observed in Hudson as it has for at least the past quarter century. At 10:15 a.m., the flag will be raised and a wreath will be laid at the Veterans' Monument in the Public Square. Then the parade begins on Park Place and proceeds down Warren Street to Fourth Street and then across to the Columbia County courthouse, where the Memorial Day services will be held.

A hundred years ago, on May 31, 1919, Hudson celebrated the first Memorial Day after the end of World War I. The parade didn't begin at the Veterans' Monument in the Public Square. The monument wasn't there yet. And it didn't end at the courthouse. Instead the parade concluded at Cedar Park Cemetery, with singing and prayers and reading and speeches. The following is the account of the parade and the ceremony that followed that appeared in the Columbia Republican for June 3, 1919.

As over fifty years ago the Civil War veterans marched in their Memorial Day parade; and again in '99 when the Spanish-American war veterans marched for the first time; on Friday morning the veterans of the world war were in their initial procession to the final resting place of a few of their comrades where they paid their tribute. The weather was all that could be desired and the parade was the finest ever seen in Hudson. 
The world war veterans marched in the first division following Co. F. and escorted by Red Cross women. They were accompanied by several sailors in uniform. The old, gray-haired veterans of the Civil War had the honor place in line and were escorted by the Spanish American War veterans and the Sons of Veterans. The turn out of the school children was most pleasing and other organizations made a fine showing.
The services at Cedar Park cemetery were opened with a prayer by the Rev. D. William Lawrence, chaplain of Lathrop post G.A.R. [Grand Army of the Republic] There was singing, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," by Christ church choir boys. Reading of General Orders, C. S., Department of N.Y.G.A.R, by Eugene C. Secor, adjutant of R. D. Lathrop post, G.A.R.; "America," by the band; Reading of President Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, by John V. Whitbeck, Jr., Sons of Veterans camp; singing "Tenting To-night," by choir boys; Reading Original Order No. 11, by General Logan, instituting the observance of Memorial Day, by Augustus Hardwick, adjutant of Hudson camp United Spanish-American war veterans; "Star Spangled Banner," by Hudson City Band; oration, Major Albert S. Callan, of Chatham; Benediction, the Rev. W. DeWitt Lukens, of squad of Co. F.  
Major Callan said in part:
Just before his death the great American, Theodore Roosevelt, penned these words:
"Only those who are fit to live are those who do not fear to die, and more are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life." Never was a country worth living in unless its sons and daughters were of that stern stuff which bade them die for it at need.
To-day all over this land and on many foreign shores, wherever there are Americans either in uniform or civilian attire, services are being held to commemorate the memory of those who possessed those qualities who made them ready and eager to give their all for their country. Originated as a day devoted to memorialize the heroes of the Civil War, the occasion now extends into one where not alone are the men who wore the blue to be honored, but their progeny as well, who have so recently and so nobly perished in order that our land might continue to enjoy its established blessings and traditions.
Gone nearly is the mighty phalanx of old, gathered to the hosts of Grant has moved on to that great army which responded to Lincoln's call and few of them are left with us.
But their sight and their presence on this occasion recalls the words of Daniel Webster in speaking to the veterans of our first great struggle--the Revolution--when at the laying of the corner stone of Bunker Hill he said to the few who still remained and were gathered in Boston that day, "Venerable men, you have come down to us from a former generation."
But the lessons of that former generation to which the Grand Army were a part, can never be forgotten. Ever a grateful people will remember that the citizenry of that time, in response to the call of duty, saved this country. To them in the hour of national peril it was not a question of whether the South had a right and a privilege to hold and own human beings as slaves, but rather the basic principles of whether this nation should continue as established, to exist. It was a problem of nationalism in those days fully as much as are many of our problems to-day. It was a question of the future, a disputed point to be solved by the living for the benefit of those to come.
Against those influences coming from abroad and implanting themselves in the minds of the impressionistic we MUST ever be on our guard. We have won our place in the world because of our adherence to God, our faith in our country and our reverence for the sanctity of the home. We cannot tolerate or countenance those who would assail one or all of these standards of ideals. Destruction is the inevitable result if we forsake or deny them. America has been built upon the foundation of simple but old and stern principles; they have been successful in . . . molding our destiny; we have but to examine our history and then compare it with the more modern but savage rule of Bolshevism prevailing in Russia with its resultant chaos and misery, to determine which has been the most beneficent government and ideals to live by and exist under. One nation fearing God, loving country, respecting the home while the other denies the almighty, preaches blatant internationalism and destroys every vestige of decency which surrounds the life of men and women. . . .
Let us preach Americanism, let us being about tolerance and mutual understanding between capital and labor and let us teach those who came here that this is the land in which every one has the right to labor and succeed and to receive in return, the protection of the government which expects of all citizens loyalty of mind and loyalty of body. . . .  
Nations are preserved and defended by those who practice homely virtues in times of peace and who at the clarion call of war are ready to die or to send their dearest to die for a home ideal. The men of the Civil War, the men of the Spanish-American War, the men of the Great World War in vast numbers of cases were such types and came from such homes. They went cheerfully for their ideals and in their going and for their going America is a better, grander, greater land to-day, and the duty they have thrown down to us must not be dropped and their hopes and their purposes carried throughout the peons of time. . . .
Major Callan would probably have delivered his oration from the porch of the cemetery house, the William Brocksbank house, which the City of Hudson acquired in 1898. In 1919, the house was used as a funeral chapel, as well as a residence and office for the cemetery. The picture below, a still from one of Josef Cipkowski's home movies, shows the house during the Memorial Day ceremonies twenty years later, in 1939.    



  1. For years all parades began at Front Street and proceeded up Warren Street. A long uphill march! All the Memorial Day parades that I participated in as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and a member of the Hudson High School band, started at Front, proceeded up Warren, around the park, out Green St. around what is now Scali's Pizza corner over Paul Avenue and into the main gate of the cemetery and over to the front of the house where the ceremonies took place. As the bands entered the front gate, all music would stop, except for the drums. Also all flags, except for the American flag, would be lowered. It was quite moving. Traditionally after the ceremony many people would stroll through the cemetery to visit graves of loved ones, and the veteran plots. After honoring the fallen veterans and deceased relatives and friends, then the remainder of the day was devoted to cookouts, swimming, etc.
    In those days, the Memorial Day parade & the Firemen's Inspection parade were the largest annual parades. The Elks Flag day parade was very small.

    1. Bruce, thanks for this. I reminds me of Memorial Day parades in Holland, Michigan, where I grew up. In Holland, the home of the annual Tulip Festival, we had lots of parades, but the route of the Memorial Day parade was different from all the rest. It terminated in the cemetery, and, in Holland as in Hudson, when the parade entered the cemetery there was nothing but a single, solemn drum beat. I guess it's a memory that many of us post-war baby boomers share.