|Date(s):||May 30, 1872|
|Location(s):||Indianapolis | St. Louis | Ohio | Milwaukee | Washington D.C. | New York City, New York|
|Tag(s):||Decoration Day, Memorial Day|
|Course:||“The United States: A Nation Divided, 1836-1876,” Wheaton College|
The graves of all of the soldiers in the different cemeteries were strewn with flowers in Brooklyn. The earliest services were conducted in Woodlawn Cemetery, General Farragut’s resting place. Boats carrying marines, naval officers and the Grand Army of the Republic and services began at sunrise. Statues of Washington and Lincoln were decorated and then the Grand Army proceeded to different cemeteries to decorate the soldiers' graves. Over 8,000 people participated. The procession moved down Broadway. The military parade continued into Brooklyn with flags flying and salutes and speeches made. Decoration Day 1872 was held on May 30th around the country (Memphis Daily Appeal, 1).
The Memphis Daily Appeal captured all of the day’s events in different parts of the country. President Grant delivered a Decoration Day address to 8,000 people at the National Cemetery at Arlington. Musical pieces were played and graves decorated everywhere. Ceremonies were observed throughout the country. Five thousand gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A beautiful granite monument was dedicated in Ohio. Over five thousand assembled in St. Louis, Missouri to hear speeches and to decorate soldier’s graves. Confederate as well as Union soldiers took part to decorate over ten thousand graves. In Indianapolis, businesses closed in the afternoon in observance of the day. Throughout the nation people took time to remember the Civil War dead. In all places, soldiers were remembered, graves decorated, flags waved and speeches and music filled the air. Remembering was the order of the day (Memphis Daily Appeal, 1).
In David Blight’s book “Race and Reunion” the history of Decoration Day is detailed. In the Memphis Daily Appeal, Decoration Day events of 1872 from different parts of the country were detailed. This information is significant for it shows how the nation healed during the aftermath of the Civil War. Decoration Day, which was later called Memorial Day, was a way for the nation to heal. Both the North and the South found a way to healing the scars of death by honoring and remembering their dead. Over six hundred and twenty thousand soldiers died as a result of the Civil War (Blight, 64). How to remember the slaughter of all the participants became the legacy of the war.
In May 1868, General John Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, called on all northern soldiers to decorate the graves of their dead comrades. Twenty-seven states participated in this May 30th ritual of placing flowers on the graves and making speeches. The next year, some three hundred and fifty six cities, both in the North and the South, participated in Decoration Day activities (Blight, 71). In the South, Confederate Memorial Day was celebrated on different dates at first. April 26th, the date of General Joseph Johnson’s surrender to General William Sherman, was used by many of the southern states (Blight, 77). Some southern states such as North Carolina and South Carolina used May 10th, which was the birthday of Stonewall Jackson. Virginia used June 3rd in honor of Jefferson Davis’ birthday (Blight, 77 – 78). By 1872, both the North and the South celebrated together with May 30th as the official day for Decoration Day as the holiday helped socially heal and bring together everyone. Black veterans marched and placed flowers alongside white veterans of the Civil War (Blight, 78 – 81). Today, Memorial Day observes all who died in all wars but the focus now is on World War I, World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans. In 1872, Civil War dead was the only focus of the May 30th remembrances.