Tag Archives: Memorial Day

A Few Out of the Way Spots on Memorial Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.27.20 AMA few day ago I posted a number of pictures taken while participating in the pre-Memorial Day exercises at the National Cemetery in Los Angeles. Over the weekend, it occurred to me that there were several Union Civil War veterans buried elsewhere in cemeteries around LA, especially at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which as I have often made note, is in close proximity to Harristorian HQ.

Unfortunately, most of the graves are in isolated parts of the cemetery and rarely visited. I suppose that the veterans’ descendents have long ago moved on. So we (my wife, Coni and I) took it upon ourselves to hold our own Decoration Day (the original name of Memorial Day from 1868) and place flags on the graves of Union veterans in Hollywood.

Below are a few shots of our own festivities.


With compliments,


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John A. Logan’s General Order #11 Designating Memorial Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.20.07 AMGrand Army of the Republic commander John A. Logan issued GAR General Order #11 on May 5, 1868. Note that the twin themes of Union and emancipation hold equal significance:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.19.23 AMwarmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

With compliments,

The Los Angeles National Cemetery Prepares for Memorial Day

IMG_1730This past Saturday, I spent a few hours at the Los Angeles National Cemetery volunteering – with about a zillion Boy Scouts from the LA area and a couple of my students – readying the grounds for Memorial Day exercises to take place Monday. Our duties included placing a US flag at every soldier’s grave. This was a rewarding as well as sobering experience and I recommend it for anyone who should ever get the chance to participate.

The Scouts did an outstanding job and the proceeding ceremonies were complete with words offered by celebrity WWII veteran Jimmy Weldon (this is LA, after all). I was most impressed with the number of young people in attendance representing the vast diversity of the Los Angeles area. I overheard many a conversation concerning the origins and meaning of Memorial Day and left a little more confident that at least some of the younger generation carry with them a historical consciousness.

Below are a few pictures – I just snapped these candidly as walked through the crowd.

With compliments,


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Starr King Post #52, GAR – Santa Barbara’s Civil War Veterans

The Starr King Post pictured in 1922

I came across a rather interesting webpage concerning the founding and commemorative activities of Santa Barbara’s GAR post: the Starr King Post #52. Most of the information is typical – dates, names, places…what you might expect. And I particularly enjoyed descriptions of GAR Comrades parading down State Street to the beach. I am a little suspect on the analysis, however, and troubled by the sloppy research. King died in ’64 not ’66. But hey, why pick at the details? The author emphasizes the forgetfulness of the Union veterans suggesting that the former soldiers had long forgotten all war-time issues. Well, I do know that that the Post invited Confederate veterans in the area to participate in some Memorial Day commemorative activities – but it’s a bit of a leap to assume that the old soldiers had left the war behind. Reconciliation and forgetfulness are not the same thing – not at all.

Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. But it’s worth it to have a look for myself, and a trip to Santa Barbara would be fine and dandy. I’ll be looking closely at any Memorial Day speeches, news articles, and post minutes that I can find. If our friends in Santa Barbara are anything at all like their comrades throughout the rest of the country, I doubt that they forgot much of anything.

With compliments,