Memorial Day Gleanings


Hamilton County News
May 16-31, 1901 Newspaper article:

Decoration Day activities included a Memorial Day sermon at the Wells M. E.

Church by Rev. J. Haskell Keep on Sunday, May 26. Decoration Day services featured veterans and school students. The parade formed at the graded school building at 2 P. M. and preceded by the drum corps and the veterans, marched to the cemetery. Songs by the scholars interspersed recitations by Dorothy Stewart, Pearl Earley, Agnes Weaver, Alice Cozine, Bessie Williams and Cora Burge. The Rev. J. Haskell Keep delivered the oration of the day.

Veterans were urged to attend since for the past two or three years they had shown a sad lack of interest.

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Hamilton County News
May 16-31, 1906 Newspaper article:

It was Memorial Day.  Wells listed its surviving veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American Wars as: E. O. Abbott, Hiram Babcock, Alfred Cowles, George C. Culver, William H. Dunham, Michael Floyd, Alvah Gray, Erastus Griffen, T. J. Hayes, A. R. L. Parslow, Lee Pettit, D. P. Wadsworth, John B. Simons (2nd Lt.), Henry Wagar, and Levi Wagar.

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Hamilton County News
May 16-31, 1909 Newspaper Article:

Union services were held on Sunday, May 30, in the morning at the Wells Baptist Church and in the evening at the Methodist Church, and the graves of the deceased soldiers were decorated on May 31. The G. A. R. attended the Indian Lake Methodist Church on Sunday, May 30 to hear a memorial service by the Rev. C. U. Bennett.


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Hamilton County News (as reprinted in the 1970s):

May 15-31, 1921 Memorial Day was fittingly observed at Long Lake under the auspices of Hamilton Co. Post No. 650, American Legion. In the morning, there was a parade, decoration of soldiers' graves; presentation of flags and victory medals and a baseball game. In the afternoon and evening, there was a band concert and dancing. The Citizen's Band from Tupper Lake attracted many from that place; Blue Mountain, Raquette Lake, Indian Lake, Newcomb, North Creek, Luzerne and Port Henry were also well represented. A beautiful silk flag and Hamilton Post banner was presented to the legion by Mrs. Harper Silliman.


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New York Times
May 30, 1883

Decoration Day.

This is the day agreed upon throughout a large part of the Republic as fitting to commemorate the services of those who died to save the union of the States. To-day, in innumerable cities, towns, and hamlets, people will assemble to honor the graves of those who shed their blood and sacrificed their lives in order that a government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth. To-day, from the uncertain line that marked the northern boundary of the Border States to the pine forests of Maine, the devious verge of Michigan, and the wilds of Oregon, there will be assembled many a group of patriots who, with a glow of patriotic emotion will recall the deeds of the heroic past and will garnish anew the graves of those who made that past forever memorable. To-day the survivors of the war of the rebellion will feel once more their importance in the history of the Republic. They will turn their vision backward upon the shadowy host that has preceded them, and will salute the memory of old comrades who have struck their tents for the last time, have fought their last battle, have laid down their arms, and have passed into the silent land.

When the feeble and rapidly diminishing remnants of the Grand Army parade on this day, bringing out into the light of day the tattered fragments of the flags they bore into the fight years ago, it is difficult for any thoughtful person to regard the spectacle with indifference, or even without emotion.

Perhaps it is only a feeble tribute which we render to the manes of those who died in defense of the Union which we pay on Decoration Day. They have passed beyond the influence of human sympathy, admiration, or praise. The day celebrated is rather for the living. It is observed chiefly to inculcate a patriotic lesson, not to pay unavailing honors to the irresponsive shades of departed heroes and martyrs.

One may well wonder what will eventually become of Decoration Day. It has finally become a national day of observances. It is as much a part of the national calendar as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. Will it, like these, eventually lose its significance and take its place in the list of holidays the original import of which has been forgotten? This is more than likely.

It is possible that future generations may ask why the 30th of May is thus mournfully celebrated. And that time, which now seems so far off, is undoubtedly to be hastened by the increasing desired to include in the ceremonies of Decoration Day a service in honor of those who fell on the losing side of the great contest. They who thus fell are beyond our reproaches, as the others are beyond the reach of our applause. But, as the years roll by, there is more charity for the dead of both armies, more fraternal sympathy for those who survive (on either side of the line) the shock of battle. If this sentiment grows, as it seems likely to grow, the time will come when Decoration Day will lose its sectional significance, and when the annual parade will only bring to mind the fact that there was a great civil war in which many men fought nobly, perished like heroes, and left to their countrymen a united Republic baptized with the life-blood of innumerable citizens.


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New York Times
29 May 1887

Memorial Day

Gen. Fairchild, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, has notified his command that there is no such day known to his order as Decoration Day. "In our rules and regulations and ritual," he adds, "it is named Memorial Day. It is earnestly requested that comrades habitually use the appropriate name."

The distinction is sound, though it has not always been maintained, even officially. The statute of this State enumerates among the public holidays "the 30th day of May, known as Decoration Day," and this is probably the language of the law in most other States. The decoration of graves and monuments is only one of the visible signs by which the real purpose of the day is expressed, and the title by which it is most nearly expressed is undoubtedly "Memorial Day." The appropriateness and, in a sentimental sense, the necessity of such a holiday is so clear that it originated soon after the war so spontaneously that its origin is difficult to trace. It is probable that the very first observance of it was at the South, and was restricted to the decoration of Confederate graves and the more or less formal remembrance of those who slept there, but it was not long before this was generally seen to be too narrow and restricted a view to be taken of such an observance, and for twenty years it has been a national holiday. It would not be far out of the way to say that it has become the national holiday. The origin of the Nation is now celebrated upon two occasions, the twenty-second of February and the Fourth of July, for the significance of Washington's Birthday is the same as that of Independence Day. The midwinter holiday has fortunately never been bulgarized as it must be owned that the midsummer holiday has been. Before the civil war the national self-consciousness was as juvenile as it was keen, and the celebration of Independence Day was for the most part devoted to indiscriminate and more or less ignorant glorification of the country, and equally indisciminate and even more ignorant defiance of Great Britain. The Fourth of July had, indeed a distinct share in keeping up an absurd national enmity, which has of late years almost entirely disappeared. When we became men we put away childish things, and among them childish taunts, which, at an earlier stage of the national development, were delivered and greeted with an enthusiasm which we now find it difficult to understand. The spirit of the old Independence Day survives in what remains of its celebration, which is given over to children to be performed in a childish and Chinese manner by means of inexplicable dumb show and noise. In cities this celebration is a yearly terror to adult males and to females of all ages. It threatens confagrations, frightens horses, worries invalids, and keeps the police as busy as if the day had been formally dedicated to general riot. Whatever else such a celebration may be, it is not one in which a grown-up person can cordially take part - at least not as it is now carried out. Moreover, it occurs at the time of year when, in the cities and towns, crowds are particularly objectionable.

It is thus not at all a matter of regret that Memorial Day should supersede Independence Day, as it seems destined to do, as the national holiday. It has been deprived by the lapse of years of any sectional or partisan aspect, and this privation is a matter of regret to nobody except possibly Mr. Jefferson Davis on the one hand and Senator Hoar on the other, who insist upon intoxicating themselves with the passions of another age. No doubt the public and national observance of the day will become less hearty as the years go by, and as those who took part in the war and those who remember it pass away. But already the day has come to be observed also as a tribute to departed friends and kindred without reference to its public and national aspects. This more intimate and sacred observance can never become obsolete while nature and human nature remain what they are, and the flowers of the young Summer offer themselves as tokens of remembrance and regret. In this observance all men and women can join and can give a significance even more lasting and important than its national significance to "Memorial Day."


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New York Times
30 May 1918

Memorial and Fast Day.

Fifty years ago General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, in an order to it naming May 30 as a day for "strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades,' expressed the hope that this observance would be "kept up from year to year while the survivors of the war remain to honor the memory of the departed." The gracious custom, borrowed from the South, survives long after South and North have come to feel a common pride in the national epic and to admire and praise one another's achievements and heroes. The graves of our soldiers and sailors of earlier wars, of the civil war and the Spanish war, have alike been honored.

Thus the day is dedicated to all our war dead, of the past and of the time to come. The survivors of the war between the States, upon whom we now look with something of that affectionate reverence our grandfathers felt for the last old Continentals, can foresee the undying succession of the commemoration. It is the All Souls' Day of our soldiers and sailors gone.

Now , when our early dead in the mightiest of wars have but begun to fall, when most of our suffering and sorrow lies before the day becomes a prophecy as well as an anniversary. This generation begins to divine the sacrifice and the tears its predecessors, according to the measure of their trial, have known. Today the martial music and the elegiac remembrance are keener and more personal to our hearts. We shall endure greater and bitterer things than the earlier men and women. So be it. We are ready to endure.

Never was there so great a cause to live and die for.

By the President's proclamation of May 11, complying with the request of Congress on April2, today is also a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting. This Memorial Day is sacred not only to older valor but to the solemn and noble duties and perils before us. Not in those dim Fast Days when our forefathers, their muskets in their hands, trudged to the meeting house to implore the blessing of God on their scanty garner and rude, laborious lives and to save them from the "Salvages"; not when Abraham Lincoln set apart Fast Day in the Summer of the first year of the civil war, was there anything like such reason for grave thought, for steady courage.

Whatever our creed or want of creed, we can all worship today in the religion of bravery, of self-sacrifice, of patriotism, of honor and duty.


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