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Memorial Day Celebrations (1880-1889)
The Evening Star, May 30, 1880
At the Congressional Cemetery
At this cemetery there was quite a large assemblage, who assisted the following decorating committee to place flowers on the graves of the soldiers and sailors there buried: Charles F. Smith, cemetery superintendent; General W.T. Clark, E.D. Town, J.M. Kline, Elmer R. Reynolds, Mrs. J.M. Kline, Willie A. Smith, Mrs. H. Greer, Miss B. Jordan, Mrs. A.M. O'Connell. The following selections of music were rendered by the choir: Chant, "The Lord's Prayer;" memorial song, "Strew Blossoms on Their Graves;" chant, "Psalm XC." The choir was composed of F.S. Deland, leader; Miss Carrie Bender, organist; Miss Nellie Deland, Mrs. O. Shomo, Miss Ida Deland, Miss Annie Waller, Charles Drexel, James Mason and O.V. Shomo.
At 10:30 o'clock the decorations of the graves being completed Comrade Turell called the assemblage to order, making remarks as follows:
Comrades, and Ladies and Gentlemen:--We meet to pay our annual tribute of praise and thank offering to the memory of our heroic dead-our country's defenders in its hour of peril. It is said that the noblest motive is the public good. In all ages the free and voluntary defender of his country's rights has received the honorable meed of gratitude from his fellow-citizens. All unite in praise to those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, and the record of their fame and services is handed down in song and story from generation to generation. Here, within this beautiful place, under the shadow of their nation's Capitol, a peaceful river at their feet, rest the remains of many brave comrades, some of whom lived to see the realization of their hopes in a reunited country, before going to the brighter land beyond the river of death. It is our mission today to hallow the memory of these patriots; to inculcate their principles, and to renew our patriotism from the examples before us. May we receive the lesson with a willing heart.
Then followed the invocation, by Rev. R.N. Baer; anthem, "Sing Unto God, and Bring an Offering," (choir); original poem, by Mrs. Mary A. Denison, by Crypti Palmoni; chant, requiem, by the choir; oration, by comrade James Cunningham, jr.; national anthem, Prof. F. Widdows, by the choir, closing with the benediction, by Rev. R.N. Baer.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1881
The decoration of the graves of the soldiers and sailors at this cemetery attracted quite a large attendance. The assembly was called to order by Comrade G.J.P. Wood, who said:
Ladies, Gentlemen and Comrades: Once again we have met in this silent city of the dead to pay a tribute of love to the memory of our comrades, who lie sleeping here. Theirs is the sweet sleep of the just, who died not for themselves but for their country. They responded to the call of duty when they left their homes to battle for the rights of man, that the glorious Union bought with the blood of our fathers, should not be destroyed but should live to bless the millions yet to come. We do not come here to strew their honored grave with flowers because they died like brave men. No! but that we love and believe in the cause for which they laid down their lives, we come here and to other cemeteries of our land and hold these services to keep their memories undimmed in the hearts of those who stood side by side with them when they went down to death. Also that those who have or will come after them may learn to love their memory as we do, and love the Union for which they died. As ex-Union soldiers and sailors we claim this day as belonging to the Union dead; the day of all days on which we strew their graves with flowers-sweet flowers that spring from the same mother earth that was so bountifully sprinkled with the loyal blood of our departed comrades! That we may be better prepared for this holy and solemn duty, let us bow our heads while the chaplain invokes the blessing of God upon our services.
The subsequent program was as follows: Invocation by Rev. M. Porter Snell; Te Deum in F, (Palmer,) by the choir; Poem, "Come Crown Them Today with Memorial Flowers," by Mrs. Maria Barton Greene, read by Comrade John Williams, Post 2; "Under the Vaulted Arch," (Palmer) by the Choir; Oration by Comrade Daniel Ramey, Post 5; National Anthem, (Tenny,) by the Choir; Benediction, by Rev. M. Porter Snell.
Mr. F.S. Deland was director of the choir, and Mrs. Lulu Denison organist.
Mr. Ramey's Oration
Mr. Ramey, after sketching the growth of liberty on our shores, said: "When organizing the government a plant was permitted to grow along side the tree of liberty-human slavery. If this evil plant had been dug up, root and branch, at that time we would not be gathered today in this solemn duty." Between the greatest blessing of man, liberty, and the greatest evil that human nature is capable of, slavery, there could be no compromise, and hence the war, which cost the best blood of the country and millions of treasure; but it was worth more than the cost, for we demonstrated to the world that a republican government can be maintained, and we have today in return the grandest government of the earth."
The Evening Star, May 30, 1882
At Congressional Cemetery
To the Congressional Cemetery at an early hour hundreds of people wended their way bearing hundreds of garlands, baskets, etc., and by ten o'clock there were, perhaps, two thousand persons on the ground busily engaged in decorating the graves of the fallen dead. It was not till half-past ten o'clock that the committee and choir arrived at the cemetery in carriages and by omnibus, and it was near eleven o'clock when the exercises took place at the stand. This was a neat platform enveloped in the national colors, and on it was the speakers and others. The corners were ornamented with large green wreaths.
The decorating committee was composed of Comrades Stanton Weaver, George J.P. Wood, Samuel McMonigle, Mr. J.B. Cross, superintendent cemetery; Comrade John O'Connell, Mesdames A.M. Bielaski, A.M. O'Connell, George J.P. Wood, M.H. Weaver, M.W. Brower,--Kellier, M.A. McMonigle, Ed Morgan, J.A. Patterson, J.A. Bryan and Misses T. Karpelles, Anna Kuhn, M.I. McMonigle, Jennie Joe Erwin, Sallie M. Overman, Anne M. Wood, Lida Snode, Laura E. Brower, Kate Decker. The choir was composed of F.J. Woodman, director; Miss Helen M. Jeffries, soprano; Miss Martha Mundell alto; Mr. E.D. Crandall, tenor; Mr. F.J. Woodman, basso; Miss Lille McCallam, organist.
After 11 o'clock Comrade Weaver called the assemblage to order and introduced Rev. Dr. Chester, of the Metropolitan Presbyterian church, who offered the invocation. The choir followed, singing "Columbia," by Gilmore, in fine style. Comrade James M. Stewart was introduced and read the following poem:
Elegy -- Memorial Day
(Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.)
Here, slumbering, stilly cold, are lowly laid
Our heroes, who is love immortal live;--
Comrades, with reverent tread this ground invade,
And tribute flowers to sacred memories give.
Come from the loyal north, and east, and west,
To these green hillocks and these solemn bowers,
Each as a cherished friend, an honored quest,--
For wherefore else were these memorial flowers?
Think not that they whose ashes crumble here,
In peaceful silence, slowly, dust to dust,
Are prisoned in some distant, unknown sphere,
Sealed by proud ignorance and scholastic rust.
Think not when mortals close their weary eyes,
And spirit breaks the shackle-bonds of earth,
That closely veiled, impenetrable skies
Will hide the loved, familiar land of birth!
Is love a futile thing?--an idle tale;
Is friendship but a whim?--a wasted breath;
Does memory perish when we reach the vale,
And wing our flight beyond the land of death?
Lo! Jacob saw, in high prophetic dreams,
While hymns celestial thrilled the midnight air,
In all the glory of irradiant beams
Angels descending and ascending there!
And ever thus will faith the way behold,
In which the spirit takes it homeward flight;
And thus will love the purer realm unfold
Whence love returns in harmony and light!
Oh, heart still yearning! Not forever lost,
But still for aye and ever all your own,
The friend departed, who in death has crossed
The viewless waste unmeasured and unknown.
Who are these shades that honor us today
With loving audience in this burial ground?
What common hopes and sympathies have they
With us who linger here in thought profound?
Who were these men? And wherefore come we now
To deck the sod that holds them in embrace?
Why thus with earnest eye and thoughtful brow,
Seem we to stand with brethren, face to face?
Why, from Atlantic to Pacific main,
Along the sacred lands where Freedom dwells,
Murmurs the dirge, in one continuous strain,
With the sad music of the requiem bells?
Who were these men? Go ask the battlefields,
Where Death o'er them his baleful pinions spread:--
Not theirs the honor to return with shields,
But on them, like the Spartan hero-dead!
Is there a martyr and immortal crown
That can perpetuate a fame more grand,
Or add one laurel leaf to the renown
Of those who die for faith and fatherland?
These were our brethren--comrades, bound by ties
Of common faith and purpose brave and high;
And while, with memories, pure emotions rise,
We utter words of generous eulogy.
They came, perchance, from far-off peaceful vales
Where autumn reapers plied the gathered sheaves,
Or where the spring returned, with gentle gales,
Or winter winds toyed with the rustling leaves.
Erstwhile, in peace, they struggled with the soil,
The half-obedient nature to compel;
With willing hands they shared the common toil,
And did their duty patiently and well.
They had the deep, immeasurable bliss,
Which, not to know were half-unblessed to be,--
The wife-bright fireside, morn and evening kiss,
And tender prides is offspring infancy.
The call of duty found them in the field,
The mill, the workshop, or the bustling mart;
They knew not war, yet pride their strength revealed,
And checked the anxious throbbings of the heart.
Nor an unmoved, as men of stolid sense,
Did these resign the joys of home, and friends,
And pleading love, whose tender eloquence
The highest flights of rhetoric transcends.
The nation called them, with its loud alarms,
For home and union holy war to wage;
The nation called them, and they sprang to arms,
In all the panoply of righteous rage.
When dangers threatened, and encroaching foes,
With frowning front, advanced to battle, then
Before the menaced altars they arose,
A living wall of proud and dauntless men.
Sternly, with serried ranks, they stood to meet
The tide of treason and its fearful shocks;
Thus on the shore the waves of ocean best--
Thus stand the sentinel and shielding rocks!
Their valor saved the menaced nation's life--
This the desire supreme and their reward:--
And hope sustained them in the battle strife,
The cheerless bivouac and the lonely guard.
How grand their deeds! How vast the debt we owe
Of gratitude to these devoted men!
This may the coming time more fully show,
By storied marble and historic pen.
They raised the shield of Freedom o'er the slave,
And bade him rise to man's sublime estate;
A land united back to us they gave,
And with their life-blood wrote the deed and date.
Bring floral gifts to decorate the page,
Bid sunlight brighten these while nations read,
That thoughtful men, in every future age.
May garner there of loyalty the seed.
O, angel visitants! The gift receive
Of spirit flowers that purest fragrance shed,
And, as ye heavenward fly, a chaplet weave,
To place, for us, on martyr Lincoln's head!
Death, thou art grand when great men sink to rest,
And Lincoln was Columbia's noblest son!
Fame, thou hast classed him with Earth'S greatest best,
Who, sent of God, the mortal race have rent.
But not the dead alone were all the brave:--
O, country! Thou hast heroes living yet,
Who, as they move, their limbless garments wave,
And ask that thou their blood may not forget.
The blood so freely shed our shame will be
If we abuse such high and holy trust;
Then, country, bend thine abject, servile knee,
And, craven, lay thy forehead in the dust!
More blest than those who lie beneath the waves,
Or blent, unknown, with undistinguished sod,
These dead rest peacefully in honored graves,
Beneath the soil that friendly feet have trod.
The singing summer streams, and summer birds,
The busy insects piping, mate to mate,
The sighing pines, the far-off loving herds,
The watch-dog barking by the open gate;
Those, not forgetting these, the loved and gone,
Will aye, when spring-time decks the youthful year,
Chant loving requiems, as time rolls on,
In the same tender strains they loved to hear.
Slumbering, from kindred and from home afar,
Are some, perchance, who hither came to die,
Strangers, unknown, but comrades in the war,
Here with our own let their cold ashes lie.
Ask not before what altars they have bent,
What holy prayers they murmured soft and low
As not their faith, their nation, their descent,--
The fought for us!--enough for us to know.
Bring wreaths for them--theirs be the same reward,
Through coming years on all Memorial days;
Alike with those we loved, let us accord
The floral tribute and the mead of praise.
These flowers will wither in the coming night,
But love will linger as the days return,
Undimmed, like lamps diffusing sacred light,
That in the grand cathedrals ever burn.
Sleep, honored ashes! Spirit hosts adieu!
Accept the gifts that deck this verdant sod;
Here, as we part, we pledge devotion true
To Liberty and Union, Truth and God!
The choir then sang "Under the Flowers, by Sweeney. Comrade Weaver made a short address.
Hon. E.N. Johnson was introduced and delivered the oration as follows:
Oration of Hon. E.N. Johnson
Mr. Johnson said:
Mr. President and Fellow Citizens:--We have assembled together today in this "silent city of the dead" to spend a brief hour in paying our heartfelt respects to the memory of those who fell in our recent struggle and to decorate their graves with flowers. And in the commencement of my remarks permit me to say that it is not my wish or intention on this occasion to utter one word that will grate harshly on the ear of a solitary individual. But stern justice to the living and the dead imperatively demands that I should utter with no uncertain sound that we were eternally and religiously right in our efforts to maintain the unity and perpetuity of the republic.
During the fearful struggle of the nation for the supremacy of the laws and the Constitution, over two and a half million of loyal men in whose hearts burned the sacred fire of patriotism, enlisted under the stars and stripes. And six hundred and fifty battle fields were stained with their precious blood.
They came,--the farmer from his plow, the student from his books, the mechanic from his workshop, the business man from his counting room, and the minister from his sacred desk. In fact from all the various pursuits and callings of civil life. They endured all the hardships of a soldier's life for four long and weary years, that this government with its grand and glorious institutions might live. But during those long, eventful years, four hundred thousand of your brave comrades sealed their devotion to their country with their life's blood.
Some died in rebel prisons; some in hospitals, and others, more fortunate, on the field of battle, where the deep-mouthed and brazen-throated cannon, loaded with shot and shell, dealt death in your serried ranks; and today, all over this broad land, from the Atlantic to the golden shores of the Pacific, are assembled on every hill-top and in every valley, wherever one of your comrades lie, kind, sympathetic friends with loving hands and feeling hearts, strewing flowers o'er their lonely graves. For there--
"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo,
No more on life's parade shall meet,
The brave and gallant few.
On fame's eternal camping ground,
Their silent tents are spread
And glory guards with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead."
I realize the fact that the custom of decorating the graves of the nation's heroes is not a new one, but dates far back to the spring-time of the world's existence. The student of history will find recorded on its time-honored pages, that it was the custom of the
Ancient Greeks and Romans
On stated days in the year, to visit the graves of their fallen heroes, and with hearts full of grief and sadness scatter flowers on their tombs. You have all heard of Leonidas and his brave Spartan band of three hundred, who went forth to meet Xerxes and his might army. They, falling at the Pass of Thermopyiae, evinced such determined and invincible bravery that they saved their country from the ravages of the Persian invaders. On the hillock where the Greeks made their last stand was erected by the Athenians a marble lion, typical of the bold hearted leader, Leonidas.
Another monument was erected near the same spot, containing this memorable inscription:
"Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That here obedient to their laws we lie."
So I would say as a fit and appropriate epitaph to mark the last resting place of our fallen heroes:
Go tell the Americans, the world, that to sustain and uphold the Constitution, which was framed by our revolutionary fathers, we lie here.
They died that the freest, the grandest, and the happiest republic in the world might be immortal; that freedom, man's inalienable right, might have a higher, a deeper and a broader signification, not only in this land, but in the kingdoms and empires of the oriental world, and the islands of the sea, everywhere, wherever man is struggling to throw off the shackles with which he has been bound fettered.
Friends, in respect to the memory of those brave men, and in honor of their grand and heroic achievements, we today scatter these beautiful flowers on the green mounds which mark the last resting place of those the nation loves to honor. But the flowers will fade and decay. The monuments which have been and those that shall be erected to perpetuate their devotion to their country will, standing exposed to the wild war of the elements, and the corroding touch of time, crumble and disappear. But a monument more enduring than bronze or marble has been erected in
The Loyal Hearts
Of the American people, that will keep alive in memory their deeds of noble daring as long as men love freedom and hate oppression; as long as the car of Christian civilizations moves, carrying us onward and upward to a higher and grander plane, will their memory be kept green in the hearts of their countrymen. Yea, as long as the language which our mothers taught our infant tongues to lisp is spoken, will their praises be sounded. Their memory is indelibly written in living characters on the tablets of our grateful hearts there to remain as long as reason retains her throne.
Standing among those graves today, I feel as if these brave patriots were just beginning to live, and that these cold marbles have a voice for us, the living, bidding us to protect, defend, and hand down to future generations the old flag without one star blotted from its grand constellation. We cannot dismiss those brave loyal soldiers to the chambers of eternal forgetfulness.
Such men in such a cause do not die. They live not alone in our memories, but let us dare assert, in obedience to that sublime faith which, alone inspires the loftiest heroism, that they enjoy a conscious existence in a more exalted sphere.
Is there a man who has stood by the tomb of Lincoln who for a moment thinks that he is locked up in that cold and narrow house? It is true that the hand that penned the proclamation which liberated four million of God's oppressed poor is motionless, it is true that those lips which plead so feelingly and eloquently for the rights of man are hushed in eternal silence.
But the soul which gave birth to those grand sentiments which stirred the great heart of the nation--
"It shall resist the empire of decay,
When time is o'er and worlds have passed away,
Cold in the dust the perished heart may lie,
But that which warmed it can never die."
I see before me today mothers who with more than Spartan sacrifice gave the idols of their homes to go forth to defend our country's flag. Venerated fathers whose heads are silvered with the frost of many years, who offered up their first-born upon the altar of our common country. Mothers, fathers, and staff upon which you fondly hoped to lean in your declining days has been ruthlessly broken, and your brave boy
"Sleeps the sleep that knows no waking
And dreams of battle fields no more."
Would that I could pour the balm of consolation into your bereaved and bleeding hearts. I can lay at your feet the grateful thanks of a united and a happy people, who are today singing anthems of praise to their memory and decorating their silent graves with beautiful flowers. And may the all-wise and merciful Father of us all, most kindly and graciously sustain and support you through life's weary pilgrimage. Soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic. A word to you and I close. You are
The Surviving Heroes
Of many a hard fought and bloody battle. You took this proud old banner and with a vow just loud enough to be heard in heaven, declared that you would never cease your efforts until it waived triumphantly over every foot of land belonging to the nation that not one single, solitary star should be erased or obliterated from its ample folds. You proved true to a nation's trust, and today, through your brave and grand achievements and those of your fallen comrades, a nation basks in a halo of glory unequaled by any kingdom or empire on the face of the globe.
I remember of reading somewhere in Grecian history that one of her most honored and distinguished heroes said that when a boy, travelling in his country, the monuments erected by Mittiades to perpetuate his military achievements would not let him sleep. And do you not feel gazing at this monument of Gen. Rawlins, and the others erected to the memory of your comrades, that they will not let you sleep if the life of your country is ever jeopardized by a foreign or domestic foe? Though you may have lost one arm in the last bloody conflict, yet with the other shall you firmly grasp this flag, which is so near and dear to you, and bear it aloft again to victory.
But may we not fondly hope that in the future no such an emergency will ever occur, and that in your declining days you may be permitted to enjoy that which you have done so much to achieve, universal peace and general prosperity. And at last, when standing on the narrow isthmus which separate the future from the past, may the last lingering glance of your already dimmed vision rest on a united and a happy people, and your ear catch the heavenly plaudits from the Throne of the Eternal, well done, good and faithful servants.
Mr. Johnson was frequently interrupted by applause.
The choir sang the chant "Come Unto Me," and the benediction by Rev. Dr. Chester concluded the services.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1883
At Congressional Cemetery
At Congressional Cemetery, there was a large gathering. The stand--a neat, frame structure--was erected in the western portion of the grounds, just south of the main walk from the west gate. Prior to the assembling at the stand, the ladies of the decorations committee passed through the grounds placing flags, wreathes and bouquets on the graves on the 500 dead soldiers buried here. On the stand were positioned J.P Wood of Post No. 7, having charge of the services with Rev. W.L. McKeany, of Wesley chapel, chaplain; the choir: Messrs, B.F. McGowan, leader; Mr. Grant, Mrs. Shaw and Miss Mundel, and Miss Ransom, organist. Mr. Edward Renaud, the part of Post No. 2; Mr. J.H. Bradford, chaplain of Garfield Post No. 2; Mr. W.W. Granger of Post 6, the orator and others. On the green in front there were several hundred persons who came in all manner of vehicles, bringing baskets of flowers, refreshments, etc.
At 10:30 o'clock, Mr. Wood in the few remarks, called the assemblage to order, and introduced Rev. McKenney, who offered the invocation. The choir then sang "Honor the Brave" very effectively. Mr. J.H. Bradford, of Garfield Post was introduced, and read the following poem, written for the occasion by mr. Edward Renaud, of Post 2:
Under the Laurels
(by Comrade Edward Renaud, of Kit Carson Post No. 2, G.A.R.)
The year brings back the scents of May, the brown bee drones the hours,
While we, with solemn sounding tread, bring flags and fragrant flowers,
Oh, sacred dead who round us lie in Death's serene embrace,
Look on us from the heavens above with wan and wistful face!
And if the souls of men may reach from out the spirit land,
Stretch forth, oh, comrades tried and true, one kindly clasping hand!
For we on earth to you in heaven, through fields of azure air,
Send up on this our sacred day a grateful nation's prayer;
A prayer that God may bless the land you gave your lies to save;
The seed you watered with your blood bedecks each grassy grave.
No more the mighty missile hews its death encumbered path;
No more the rocking sabre cuts its fierce and bloody swath;
For hands that held the shining sword or bore the gleaming gun.
Lie mouldering 'neath the flowery sod, their deeds of daring done,
Ah! Would to God that you could stand beneath His sun today;
That at he terror of the time a dream might pass away;
That eyes that weep and lips that pale for twenty years ago
Might see and bless the martial sons that fell before the foe!
But vain the wish and vain the dream; so fain are we content
To blend our flowers and tears and prayers in Love's sad sacrament!
Oh, noble sons of sturdy sires, who died that we might see
Once more our might Union sweep across from sea to sea!
Our prayers are turned to songs of praise for that which you have won--
For smiling fields that sleep serene beneath the May-day sun;
For stately ships that sail the seas beneath the strips and stars;
For cities fair that need no forts or gates or bolts or bars;
For peace and plenty through the land you made so grand and great,
Where fifty million souls today defy the stroke of Fate!
Sleep soft, sleep soft beneath the sod by flood and field and wood,
Since He from battle's bitter ills ordains the greatest good,
Since never sons of men may march to goal of high desire
Unless the forward path they tread is swept by blood and fire.
But we who stand secure above, to you who lie below
Pledge faith and truth and honest hearts to keep the flame aglow--
The frame that burns in manly breasts for hearths and homes and all
The makes the land we love the best that crowns this earthly ball.
Bring flowers and words of loving praise for these, our comrades dear;
But weep no more for those who wait for us who linger here;
I see their marshalled armies stand, with watchful faces bent
Above the golden gates of heaven and shining battlement.
They bid us guard the land they saved, a gift of wealth untold;
The bid us guard the starry flag, the honored flag of old.
Ay, we will keep the solemn pledge and guard it heart and soul
Until that awful muster day when God shall call the roll.
Washington, D.C., Decoration Day, 1883
The choir sang "Our Loyal Tried and True," and Comrade W.W. Granger, of Post 4, was introduced, and delivered the oration as follows, being frequently applauded:
Oration of W.W. Granger
Mr. Commander, Comrades of the Grand Army, and Fellow-Citizens:
The human mind is so committed that some of life's facts and experiences, however, often repeated, never entirely lose their interest. Sunrise and sunset are daily facts, but the gaze of old age and infancy, no less than the stronger vision of mid age turn with ever fresh delight to watch the golden chariots of the coming day wheeling across the eastern hills, or its banners of glowing crimson, as they change to dusk and then to darkness in the fading west The years have come and gone, and seasons changed, and now since man existed; but men have never lost the sense of keen delight with which they see again the spring's deft fingers clothing the bare earth in its new robes of green, buttoned with dandelions and buttercups; festooned with wreathing vines and decked with flowers on shrub and bush, and tree whose odors, fill the air with essences that seem to vitalize the human frame with a life as fresh as new, and glad as that which wakes the sleeping earth. The band who sings of spring today strikes in the human heart as sure a chord of responsive emotion as he who sang "when yet the world was younger and he whose strains shall sing the season's glories to the hundredth generation hence will, if he sings them well, find eager listeners still. This trait is fortunate for the race, as a source, of constant pleasure from ever recurring facts. But it is especially fortunate for those of us on whom has been devolved the sad, yet pleasing duty, of delivering today the addresses which have become by custom, a "fixed institution" in the yearly program for "Decoration day," it would be almost as impossible to say anything new at such a time as it would be to invent a spring of winter unlike any the earth has ever known. If the homage paid, in all historic times, by every nation that has proved itself worth a place in history, to those who
Bravely Fought and Nobly
Died for country's sake, had not centuries since exhausted thought and expression on the subject, the yearly celebrations of the last twenty years at each of the hundred cemeteries where rest our patriot dead would still have robbed the them of all novelty and left us nothing new to say. All that preceded or led to the war of the rebellion--all that was settled by its results--all that might have followed the nation's failure to assert and maintain its supreme authority--all that was grand or heroic in the deeds of "those who fought, and bravely fighting fell"--are not all these things written in the chronicles of those and later days? Have they not been rehearsed in your hearing on these occasions again and again? We needs must, as we safely may, trust more to the occasion and its surroundings, with their inspirational influence on those who come to join us in the yearly tributes to the "nation's glorious dead," than to any new line of thought which mortal brain can evolve, or to any new form of language in which such thoughts, if they were possible, could be framed. And yet it is well to hear the old themes rehearsed. It is wise to come together yearly, as the Grand Army has well ordained, in this flush time of flowers, and dress these hero graves anew with all that is most fragrant and most beautiful in natures gifts. These honors paid to them shall honor us as well; for they who worship heroes truly, must needs have in their own souls a touch, if not of heroism, at least of heroic possibilities, which occasion might develop into deeds as grand as these we celebrate today. By participation in these solemn rites we fill our own souls with nobler aspirations. Over these graves on which we place our offerings we rekindle in our own hearts the patriotic impulses, which for aught we know may, even in our own lifetime, be needed as spurs to action in
As great as those in which they fell who fill these graves. Let me not be misunderstood as one who prophesies of coming and not far off wars, either factional or sectional amongst ourselves, or waged as one people, for defense or aggression against some other nation. I cannot even guess whether we shall ever, and God send we never may, be parties to another war of any kind. But none of us are so ignorant of history as not to know that no generation of men, within historic times, ahs escaped without witnessing or sharing in wars of more or less magnitude, and that many an entire generation has never known a single year of peace. Our own country, with little more than a century of national existence behind it, has spent fully a fifth of that time in foreign or domestic wars.
Who, then, can guess how soon or why the country may need again the services of her strong-limbed sons, with souls attuned to dare, and do, and die as they did amongst whose graves we stand today? Who can or will, in the light of these facts, deny the wisdom of coming--as for years past we have, as today we do, and as for years to come, please Heaven, we will--to lay on these graves the offerings which tell not only of their noble deeds and deaths, but of our desire to emulate their courage and their patriotism--if and when another such necessity shall arise? Surely none who hold that national disintegration would have been a disaster. Not those who think that national unity was worth fighting for, nor those who believe it worth while to keep our own and our children's souls tuned up to that pitch of patriotic feeling which will make us and them capable of imitating those whose services this day has been set apart and these ceremonies instituted to honor and commemorate.
But this day's observances have a two-fold significance, and are held not only to honor the personal bravery of those who sleep around us, or to give expression to the fond emotions which comrades living feel for comrades dead. They have a political meaning as well; but political in its best and broadest sense. I could not, at such a time as this, belittle the occasion, or myself, by descending to that small type of partisanship which would ignore or forget, that of those who died in that fight, and of those who shared and survived its dangers, no small proportion suffered then, and differ now, from my party beliefs. We agreed, and continue to agree, on the broad, safe basis of a country which shall be "forever one and inseparable"--of
One Government and One Flag
For that country, and above all, on the doctrine of "a government by the people, for the people, and of the people." It is to these sentiments, no less than to those who died for their maintenance, we are paying tribute in these memorial rites.
I see around me not only those who bravely bore their part in that fierce fight to bear aloft the flag of nationality, but many who were then too young to know there was a war, or what it meant, or what it was for; and some, too who fought as bravely against us then, as I believe they would now with us, if the nation's call to arms rang out to meet a foreign foe. I can ever fancy that, if a rebellion should break out anywhere north of "Mason and Dixon's line," these former foemen of ours would take a patriotic pleasure in fighting beneath the old flag, to thrash us back into the Union; and if such a state of affairs should ever come, Heaven send them better luck in fighting us back into it than they met in the effort to fight their own way out. It may be that today they come to lay their votive offerings on the graves of former foes, more in honor of their bravery than of the cause for which they fell--for brave foes love a foeman brave, and stack their arms while round his gravel. Even so would I welcome them and their offerings--for foemen who have learned to respect each other's pluck and sincerity are far on the road to peace and friendship. Only because, and so far as it might be misconstrued into a concession to the "lost cause" or to the political theories which made the effort at secession possible, would I hesitate to place flower upon a rebel's grave who fell fighting for what he thought was right. I hold now, as then, that they were wrong; and would not for my right arm or my life utter a word or do an act to belie that belief. But long before that strife ended, I learned to believe them sincere, and to know that they possessed the courage of their convictions. While I would not again, as I once did, unite in a joint ceremony, which could be construed or misconstrued as a tribute to anything beyond their honesty of purpose and personal bravery, I do not hesitate to put myself on record as fully conceding that. Whatever may be thought or said by those who stayed at home and grew rich by
Selling Beef or Weaving Shoddy--
Who never bled, save through their pocketbooks, in hiring substitutes to fight and die for them by proxy--I know my comrades of the grand army will join me in the admission that "they fought like brave men, long and well," with a daring that was "worthy of a better cause." No true soldier of the Union side will wonder at or blame them for coming together, as now and then they do, to lay upon the graves of their dead the offerings which tell of their regard for those who shared their dangers, their temporary triumphs and would have shared, if living, their final utter defeat. We who fought against them know too well how victories and dangers, privations and defeats, won and borne together, endear men to each other. We should regard them as less than human if they forgot the companions of their bootless and most unwise struggle. We can sympathize with them in the tenderness of the remembrances that such gatherings must recall as our own hearts are swept today by sad and tender memories of those who marched, and camped, and fought with us beneath our banners, and went with us into battles from which they never came back. But they do not ask, and cannot expect, that we should look on such occasions as "our funerals," nor that we shall mourn with them, if any of them still mourn for their "lost cause." For every desolated home,--for every widowed heart,--for every orphaned child in all the "Sunny South" I have, and all my comrades have, a tear of sympathy. But here, amidst these graves, whose every headstone tells of a northern home, made desolate as theirs; almost in sight of Arlington, where dwelt the chief who led the rebel hosts, and where now lay twenty thousand other Union dead; and nearer still to the many thousand more who sleep beside the Soldiers' Home, on this day, when at more than a hundred other cemeteries, scattered through all the land, my comrades and fellow-citizens have gathered to lay on countless graves the nation's yearly offering of flowers and speech and song, I cannot help but curse anew that most damnable of political heresies which made possible the attempt at secession by teaching Americans that their
Primal and Supreme Allegiance
Was due to the state in which they lived, instead of to the general govern, in which, by solemn compact, the original states of this Union had vested supreme authority, and from which all the other states had derived their very existence. It was this fallacy, honestly held and bravely fought for, by true men, which alienated the two great sections of our common country--which desolated their home from whence came the men who fill these graves, or who fell on either side. It was that which made demagogues ambitious of higher place than they could hope to reach in a united country, with but one central government, willing to wreck and divide the nation to attain their ends. It was that which swept the south from Virginia to the gulf, with a destruction of life and property that would shame a cyclone or an earthquake into humiliation at their comparative incapacity for mischief. It was that which made necessary the mountain of national debt that has taxed this and must tax the coming generation, though already half reduced, and in process of more rapid extinguishment than any other nation, save one, has ever approached.
These are historic facts which, regardless of party, all men must concede to be true. What better time or place for their discussion that now and here? How better could I occupy your time today than by recalling them in your consideration? And yet why need I? The time, the occasion, these graves recall them better than any words of mine can do. Let us then, go at once to the discharge of that sacred duty for which mainly we have assembled and, having decked these graves with flowers, let us carry away with us as maxims these truths; that he who bravely dies for what he thinks is truth, is worthy of high credit; but he who dies for what of personal bravery can redeem a bad cause from final defeat; and, finally, the only solid political basis for our country is in the supremacy of the central general government, embodied in the motto of "one flag, one country, and one government, beneath whose sway all the living shall be equal before the law, and all her dead sons, slain in war, be worthy of as glorious sepulture as those who lay in these green graves, with roses crowned today."
The choir sang "Under the Roses," and the exercises were brought to a close by the benediction pronounced by Rev. Mr. McKeaney.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1884
At Congressional Cemetery
Interesting Ceremonies on the Banks of the Anacostia
Three or four thousand people, bearing floral offerings to the dead, passed through the iron gates of Congressional cemetery this morning. Nearly every grave showed some token of memory, some having but a single blossom dropped upon the green sod, while others were embedded in flowers. The decoration committee of the Grand Army-George J.P. Wood, John O'Connell, D.M. Goodacre, C.E.H. Holmes, Mrs. A.M. Bielaski, Mrs. M.A. McCulloch, Mrs. John O'Connell, Mrs. Annie Lewis, Mrs. Gerbert, Mrs. George J.P. Wood, Miss Alice Holmes, Miss Emma Goodacre, Miss Annie M. Wood, Miss Lizzie V. Kelley, Mr. J.B. Cross-under the direction of comrade Geo. J.P. Wood, of Post No. 7, decorated all the soldiers' graves, about one hundred and thirty in number. Special services were held over the graves of Col. Meacham, of Indian fame, original poems being read by Mrs. Mary A. Kail, of Ohio, and Lydia H. Tilton. The regular memorial ceremonies began a little after ten o'clock. The choir-Mrs. Shaw, Miss Mundell and Messrs. Simonds and McGowan, under direction of D.F. McGowan-sang "Honor the Brave," the assembly joining in the chorus. After invocation by Rev. H.R. Naylor, and a hymn, "They Died for Me and You," Hon. Charles Murphy read an original poem in memory of the honored dead, which was full of touching passages. Comrade H.J. Gifford, Post No. 3, was the orator of the occasion, and praised their brave departed comrades in eloquent terms, blessing the beautiful custom of doing them honor upon this day by floral offerings, as they honored and served their country with their strength and their blood. The choir sang "Our Loyal Tried and True" and "Under the Flowers." After benediction by Rev. H.R. Naylor the decoration committee left for Arlington, but the large crowd assembled remained, scattering flowers on the graves of their friends, and doing deeds of devotion. Some few tombs, gray with age, were decorated only by the stray vines climbing over the moss-covered stones and the wild blossoms springing up; but most had at least a blossom dropped upon them. The tablets of statesmen were not decorated, as the remains are not there.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1885
At the Congressional Cemetery
At the Congressional cemetery several hundred members of the Grand Army of the Republic and others assembled this morning to decorate the graves of the dead soldiers. The rain, however, had the effect of keeping many away and of making many others tardy; but a great many walked out while others went by street cars, herdics, and private conveyances. Numerous wagons laden with flowers were about the cemetery.
At 9:30 o'clock the members of the decoration committee, consisting of J.B. Cross, superintendent, cemetery; George J.P. Wood, E.M. Truell, John O'Connell, members of choir, J.M. Pipes, Richard Middleton, Miss Julia Balch, Mrs. N.M. Brooks, Mrs. E.M. Truell, Mrs. C.H. Ingram, Mrs. George J.P. Wood, Mrs. J.H. Baxter, Mrs. Mary E. Kale, Mrs. J.E. McCabe, Mrs. H.H. Martin, Mrs. John O. McConnell, Mrs. Fred Thomson, Miss Pearl H. Pipes, Miss Claudia Moore, Miss Mamie Macauley, Miss Jessie Marks, Miss Annie W. Wood, and Miss Emma Kale, with many other persons, moved around the ground, placing at the graves of the Union dead small U.S. flags and flowers arranged in bouquets, wreaths, etc.
Among those who lie here, and whose graves were decorated today are a number of men whose names are historical, dating back to the early days of the republic. Among the distinguished dead, whose graves were decorated may be mentioned Wm. Wirt, Gen. D.W.C. Clinton, (Vice President) , Major Generals Jacob Brown, Alex. McComb, and Rawlins; Commodores Chauncey, Upshur, Stevens, Patterson, and Goldsborough; Surgeon General Lovell, Capt. J.T. Peck, Lieut. Oscar Hough and others.
The Exercises at the Stand Were opened by P.P. Com. J.M. Pipes, of post 3, who referred to the weather having interfered with the arrangements somewhat. Though this was not the most extensive cemetery, it was an historical one, for here were the names of some taking them back to the old revolution.
The choir-Mrs. B.F. Shaw, Miss M.M. Mundell, H.O. Simonds and W.F. Hutchinson (organist) sang "Under the Flowers," and prayer was offered by Rev. Samuel Kramer. "In Peace They Sweetly Sleep," was then sung, and Will Carleton's poem "Cover Them Over," was read in excellent manner by Mrs. E.M. Truell.
Col. McLean's Oration
Col. William McLean, deputy commissioner of pensions, was introduced, and said that this was, indeed, historic ground; none more historic. Today we come to pay homage to the brave. A million graves He scattered in groups in which lie our fallen comrades. The fall of so many is a grand and solemn fact; one never to be forgotten, and a people mindful of their liberties who failed to embalm in their hearts the undying love of those who fell in their cause are unworthy to be free. He hoped that the observances of this day would reunite all heart to heart as one people. Nearly twenty years have passed since the last hostile gun was fired. God vindicated the right, and the country was saved. He willed that the country should not be destroyed by her own sons. Every day shows that the lost cause was justly lost. Even those who bravely fought on that side today rejoice that the war for the Union was successful; rejoice in a reunited country.
Col. McLean then pictured the cattle grazing on the old camping grounds, and said that the time had arrived when the New Englander and the South Carolinian regarded the stars and stripes as above their state flags. The London Times during the war said: "Go on with the dance, but you'll never pay the fiddler." But we have paid the fiddler. Gunpowder was the thing; giant powders for giant wrongs. It had achieved wonders. He spoke of the New England minister, who found the troops out of wadding, and gathering up a bushel of hymn books said "Put Watts in 'em," and the dear old hymns went smoking on their errand. Col. McLean then paid a high tribute to the volunteer soldiers in the rebellion, and said no such a body of men had ever been brought together. The private soldier was the hero; he bore the brunt of the battle. Peace did not spoil him for war nor war spoil him for peace. When the last revielle shall sound may America come up with the stars of the Union around her, and he hoped that this day will be observed in the years to come, and that the country will continue prosperous and happy; a country of united people, where no head wears a crown. [Applause.]
"Somebody's Darling is Slumbering Here" was sung in excellent manner, after which the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Mr. Kramer.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1886
When the people gathered at Congressional cemetery this morning they found that nature had been before them. The roses and honey-suckles were in bloom upon the graves. At 10 o'clock, the time fixed for the Grand Army ceremonies, there did not seem to be a grave over which there was not some one leaning, reverently strewing it with flowers. People were coming through the gates loaded down with blossoms, and wagons, carriages and herdics were crowded together like a festival time. Everybody carried flowers, and there were more people present than is usual on Decoration Day. The Grand Army ceremonies were conducted on a platform erected under the trees. The program was more than half over before it began to drizzle, and the rain was not sufficient to interrupt the proceedings. The ceremony was under direction of Comrade George J.P. Wood, past commander, Post No. 7. "Honor the Brave" was sung by the choir-director, Comrade D.F. McGowan; organist, W.T. Hutchinson; Miss Bertha D. Lincoln, soprano; Miss Martha Mundell, alto; Mr. F.A. Grant, tenor; Comrade D.F. McGowan, bass. The assembly was called to order by Comrade Wood, who made a brief address suited to the occasion. Prayer was delivered by Rev. Samuel Domer. Comrade DeWitt C. Sprague read an original poem, which was received with appreciative applause. "Under the Flowers" was sung by the choir, and the oration of the day was delivered by Comrade Charles P. Lincoln, commander of Kit Carson Post, No. 2. "God Preserve Thee" was sung, and Rev. Dr. Domer pronounced the benediction. The graves of the soldiers were strewn with flowers by the decoration committee, Messrs. J.P. Wood, John O'Connell, C.E.H. Holmes, Wm. W. Davis, Harry Simpson, Mrs. N.M. Brooks, Mrs. A.M. Bielaski, Mrs. M.A. McCulloch, Mrs. Geo. J.P. Wood, Mrs. Mary Simpson, Mrs. Mary E. Kail, Miss Alice Holmes, Miss Annie M. Wood, Miss Emma Kail, Miss Minnie E. Brooks, J.B. Cross, superintendent cemetery.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1887
At Congressional Cemetery
The scene at the Congressional Cemetery today was most interesting. The memorial services were directed by Commander Horatio N. Howard, of Post No. 10. The cemetery was early thronged by many men, women, and children bearing baskets, hampers, and bouquets of rare and beautiful flowers, which they strewed with loving hands upon the graves of the dead. The air was full of the fragrance of the flowers and over all rested an air of the most complete peace and quiet. During the services the little children played on the grass under the trees and mingled their melodious voices with the sweet chirping of the birds.
Remarks of Commander Howard
The assembly was called to order about 10 o'clock by Commander Howard in a few appropriate remarks. He said that nowhere in the land is it more fitting to assemble for the purpose of paying tribute to the memory of Gen. Logan, one of the first chosen commanders-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, and said that it was he who introduced here in Washington this custom of assembling on the 30th day of May, the end of the typical month of flowers, to commemorate the valorous lives and heroic deaths of the soldiers by strewing flowers above their graves.
At the conclusion of the opening address the chorus of ladies sang the requiem "Sleep, Soldier, Sleep" in beautiful style, and made the eyes of many of the old soldiers present grow dim with the memories of the past, called up by the song.
Rev. J.D. Wilson, chaplain of Post 10, then delivered the invocation. He prayed The Almighty to remember the mothers, wives and children of the tens of thousands of loyal and loving husbands, fathers, and sons, who gave up their lives for God and their country, and asked that He would send peace and plenty to their hearthstones now and hereafter. He closed his prayer by invoking the blessing of God upon President Cleveland and all those over whom he is called upon to rule.
Mr. Seaton Donoho then read the following original poem, which elicited much applause from the crowds, who stood in breathless silence during its reading:
I do not praise the soldiers brave
Who lost themselves their Land to save
They were Americans; they did
Alone what Truth and Honor bid:
And you I claim
The very same,
Yes, you, resolved, like them to give
E'en life, that Liberty may live!
"Who lost themselves," I said. Untrue!
No one who wore the loyal Blue
Is lost or can be! Here Today
With flowers we make their green mounds gay,
But more than flowers,
These live hearts--ours
Recall them from the battle strife
To reverence, love, eternal life!
Bend, Brothers, from your happy skies,
Expand our souls, illume our eyes,
That as your own our course may be,
Heroic, beautiful and free,
That we may teach,
By more than speech,
What Earth and Time shall understand
The glory of our Freedom Land!
Col. Hill's Oration
Col. R.F. Hill, of Post 79, department of Michigan, who was the orator of the day, was then introduced to the audience by Commander Howard. The orator likened the present occasion to the beautiful legend of
"Sandalphon, the angel of glory,
Sandalphon, the angel of prayer."
who stands at the outermost gate of the city celestial, listening breathlessly to sounds that ascend from the heart. "This day, this hour; aye, this very moment," said the speaker, "throughout the length and breadth of our re-0united country, the fragrant harmony of song and prayer are wafted as one universal harmony of song and prayer to Heaven's eternal camping ground, typified by the flowers brought with loving hands."
He spoke of the part which is left to be played by the survivors of the war, and said: "In the language of our past commander-in-chief, in his general orders, nineteen years ago, and over whose new made grave today for the first time are strewn the floral offerings of memorial day in the eloquent words of Logan, "If other eyes grow dull, and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well--so long as light and warmth of life remain to us."
Co. Hill ended his address with a few remarks upon the Grand Army of the Republic. He said that next to the Christian church it is one of the grandest organizations on the earth.
After the singing of the "Soldier's Farewell" by the chorus of ladies and the benediction by the Rev. Mr. Wilson the decoration committee proceeded with their work, and soon the graves were almost hidden from sight by the multitude of flowers thrown upon them.
The chorus of ladies was composed of Mrs. Crandall, Misses Halstead and Hingman, first soprano; mrs. Gordon, Misses Shepherd and Craig, second soprano; Misses Ober and Hansman, first contraltos; Mme. Harriette H. Mills, second contralto, director, and the decoration committee of messrs. H.N. Howard, G.T. Dykes, F.L. Fuss, James A. Boyce, Wm. H. Day, J.B. Cross (superintendent cemetery), Mesdames H.N. Snyder, A.M. Dykes, Chris. Storm, W.A. Bartlett, M.M. Greene, H.D. Bodine, and Misses Jessie A. VanDoren, Ida Lusby, Katie E. Decker, Lilly Keithly, Ivy Donoho, and Julia A. Boyce.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1888
At the Congressional Cemetery
Notwithstanding a slight rainfall early in the morning, every route leading to the Congressional cemetery was strewn with people, most of them lade with flowers to decorate the graves in that burial place. For the ceremonies a platform had been erected nearly opposite the monument to Gen. Rawlins. Strains of music by Weber's band drew the scores of persons scattered through the cemetery to the stand, and at 10 o'clock, the rain having entirely ceased, Comrade Huntoon, of the G.A.R., in calling the assemblage to order, remarked that they and met to do honor to men who gave their lives that their country might live. He then presented Rev. Alfred Harding, chaplain of the G.A.R., who invoked a blessing upon the occasion. Comrade Huntoon next introduced Representative McKinney, of New Hampshire, the orator, whose address was listened to with marked interest.
Representative McKinney's Address
Mr. McKinney spoke for about half an hour. He said that to the soldiers whose graves today they decorated, no less than to those who fought in the Revolution, did we owe honor for the salvation of this country. They had done more than had been done by the Revolution. They had made a fact what before had been but theory; they had completed the work that the fathers of the country had but begun. The fathers, having fought for the freedom of mankind, had not been able to make the victory complete. Having conquered a foreign enemy they themselves could not form a government of perfect freedom. The constitution sanctioned slavery; Washington and Jefferson and both trembled in contemplation of what might come of this evil. The soldiers of this later day had wiped from the Constitution this blood, which shamed our national character. He said that the victory was not of one section over another; slavery was a nation sin, not sectional. It was wrought into the Constitution. But, he said the victory of these soldiers was not complete upon the battle-field; a great soldier claims the honor of a nation by being a good citizen and maintaining in peace the principles that made the war just.
"The curse of our institutions," he said, "that had made our fathers tremble, and yet that they had not the courage to crush, that had stood so long like a magazine ready to explode in our midst, was wiped out forever, and the song of universal liberty was heard throughout the land. And now, my friends, who shall be honored by all? They who laid the foundation of our liberty, but placed in that foundation principles that ever threaten us, or those who went forth and with their lives sacrificed upon the altar of their country tore out this defective work and preserved our institutions of freedom and human liberty?
"Comrades and friends, are we far enough from that conflict to look back to it without prejudice and read the lesson taught by it? Do we understand today what history and our own experience teaches us, that while we fought, both North and South, for a principle which each believed was vital, and for which each claimed especial virtues, yet, under God, it was but the penalty of a national not a sectional sin. If we appreciate this lesson today, then have we taken a step toward higher civilization and for the building up of those principles which, though taught as a theory, were not fully practiced by our fathers. And while there is such a thing as patriotism to stir the blood in our veins the memory of those who perished in that great struggle will be cherished as the richest legacy that has been left us as a nation."
He said that soldiers might conquer a principle, but that that principle was made a part of the nation's life by the citizen no longer a soldier.
After the band had rendered "Nearer my God to Thee," the poet of the day, Comrade W.W. Grander, read an original poem, written for the occasion. The benediction was pronounced by Chaplain Harding, and the assemblage dispersed to the lively and patriotic air of "Hail Columbia" by the band.
The Evening Star, May 30, 1889
At Congressional Cemetery
Shortly after 8 o'clock East Washington people were on the way to Congressional Cemetery, that time-honored city of the dead on the banks of the Anacostia. At the gate of the cemetery a delegation of Farragut Post, No. 10, G.A.R., was on hand to receive those who were expected to take part in the decoration exercises. Many persons came by carriages and herdics, and by 9:30 o'clock when the formal exercises were to take place, there were perhaps 1,500 people in and about the grounds. At that hour, with Weber's band playing a dirge, the company present, comprising members of the Grand Army, relatives of the honored dead., members of the Mozart Musical association and others, formed a procession under Commander Dinsmore, of Farragut Post, G.A.R., was on hand to receive those who were expected to take part in the decoration exercises. Many persons came by carriages and herdics, and by 9:30 o'clock, when the formal exercises were to take place, there were perhaps 1,500 people in and about the grounds. At that hour, with Weber's band playing a dirge, the company present, comprising members of the Grand Army, relatives of the honored dead, members of the Mozart Musical association and others, formed a procession under Commander Dinsmore, of Farragut Post, G.A.R., and headed by the band, marched to the stand, near the monument over Gen. Rawlins' grave. Here the members of the band, with the vocalists, took seats, and Weber's band opened the exercises by the dirge, "The Honored Dead."
Commander Dinsmore called the assemblage to order in a brief address stating that this was one of the occasions when all should renew the pledge of loyalty and welcome their friends in commemorating the memory of the fallen brave.
Rev. Mr. Wilson, chaplain of Farragut Post, offered the invocation and the Mozart association sang, "Sleep, Sacred Dust."
Comrade George B. Reynolds recited an original poem, "The Soldier's Wife and Mother," and the Mozart association sang "Honor the Brave."
Hon. W.W. Curry, of Indiana, then delivered the oration.
Mr. Curry began by referring to the events in our national history, which the centennial year commemorates, and gave a brief but interesting review of the political changes in parties and opinions up to the late war. Slavery was not the cause of the civil war, he said, only its occasion. The real issue was behind the immediate interest and was involved in the question "Is the United States a nation or a confederacy of nations?" If it was a voluntary confederation of sovereign states, then these sovereignties had a right to withdraw from the confederation, however inconvenient the dissolution might be, and to establish such other associations as they might see proper. If the United States was a nation, he asserted, then it was in duty bound to preserve the national life and to coerce whoever sought its dissolution. Slavery gave to this controversy a local and sectional character. And so it came about that the doctrine of state sovereignty in the interest of
The Institution of Slavery
arrayed the south on the side of disunion, while the doctrine of national sovereignty in the interests of human freedom and industrial development arrayed the north on the side of union. The speaker said that to assert that the Union soldier died that the nation might live is not to indulge in the historic of oratory but to state the sober fact of history. "We rejoice," exclaimed the orator, "in our victory over our brethren of the south because by that victory we continue to be brethren, citizens of one country, participants in its common greatness and glory." He spoke of the significance of the day which is observed by paying a simple tribute to the memory of the heroic dead, and said that its observance evinced the national appreciation of the advantages enjoyed by reason of the self-sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the common weal. He deprecated any interpretation of the meaning of this celebration which would assert that it was intended to revive the bitterness of personal strife or to prolong the contest of
Section against Section.
The object is not to excite ill feeling toward the living, but to recall tender memories of the dead. The union soldier entertains no animosity toward the soldiers of the confederacy. "He can go further," asserted the speaker; "he can think that the time has come when the maimed and dependant soldiers of the lost cause can not only be forgiven their errors, and be accorded the equal privileges of American citizenship, but also can have some provision made for helplessness at the public expense. If they may not be placed on the pension rolls of the government, if that shall be held sacred as the privilege of the soldiers of the Republic, yet a rich and generous nation can well afford to build them comfortable houses and to care for them in their declining years."
At the end of the oration the band rendered "Nearer, My God, To Thee," and Rev. Mr. Wilson pronounced the benediction and the assemblage dispersed, the band playing the "Star Spangled Banner."
The Decorated Graves
The decoration was done by the committee prior to these exercises, nearly 400 graves having a flag and flowers placed on them. Among the honored dead were many naval heroes from the old families of East Washington, as well as some historical characters. Included in the graves decorated were those of Gen. Rawlins (whose monument was enveloped in a large Flag), Gen. W.H. Emory, Gen. Henderson, Major Booth, Com. Aulick and son, Surgeon Richmond Aulick; Com. Smoot, Com. Tingey, Gen. A.A. Humphreys, Vice Presidents Clinton and Eldridge Gerry, Admirals Goldsborough and Patterson, Commodore G.D. Bache and son, Pushmataha (a Choctaw chief), Generals Jacob Brown, of the war of 1812 and Alex. McComb; Gen. Walker of the Mexican war; Gen. Parker, Antonio Pons, Sergt. W.H. Cross (who died on the arctic expedition), J.W. Cross, George, John, and Thomas Heinlein, Com. Van Doran, of the G.A.R. and a host of others.
A squad of marines brought several baskets of flowers to decorate the graves of their comrades.
The Decoration Committee
Was Comrades P.B. Dickerson, Chris Storm, J.B. Peake, Wm. F. Dove, Wm. M. King, George T. Dykes, and J.T. Thompson; J.B. Cross, superintendent cemetery, H.M. Cross, assistant superintendent cemetery; Mesdames Wlliam F. Dove, H.S. Linker, E.H. Curry, Chris. Storm, K.M. Harris, S. Lyon, H. Kibbey, and J. Bevans; Misses Edith Dickerson, Alice Prescott, Ethel Dinsmore, and Lou Storm.
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