Monday, May 21, 2012

Decoration Day

Memorial Day means different things to different people.  For some, Memorial Day is a holiday and it means time off from the job.  For others, it marks the end of a school year and the beginning of summer vacation.  In the 20th century, Memorial Day has become a long weekend devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach and the Indianapolis 500.

Decoration Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War.  Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War.  By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, especially in the mountains.  Decoration Day may take on the appearance of a family reunion when a family cemetary is involved.  People and families gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others.  "Dinner on the ground" a traditional term for a pot-luck meal is spread out on tablecloths on the grass.

My family has honored and celebrated Decoration Day for years.  Here are some of the reasons

This is Stock Creek Baptist Church established in 1872.  Great Grandparents Fred and Mary Eliza Ward are buried in this church cemetery.

This is the grave marker for Great Great Grandmother Anne Elizabeth Caldwell Plemons.  Grandmother Anne Elizabeth kept the family and farm in tact while Grandfather William Jefferson was fighting in the Civil War.

This is Middle Creek Methodist Church.  Grandmother Rebecca Ward Lowe was a member of this church and is buried in the church cemetery.  My parents met at this church and were married at the church parsonage.  Many members of my Mother's family are buried in this cemetery.

The family cemetery is in the mountains--Smoky Mountains.  The cemetery is located within the boundaries of the Smoky Mountain National Park.  Great Grandparents John Palmer and Sarah Miranda are buried in this cemetery.  My Grandfather carried the casket of his Granddaughter, Clara Ann on his shoulder up this long steep road and buried her in the family cemetery.

1 comment:

  1. If we lived close to home we would participate in the family tradition of visiting our dear departed. I do dress up the home with patriotic buntings and flags on Memorial Day and don't take them down until Labor Day. I feel like the whole summer is an American celebration of freedom.

    Thank you for sharing your tradition and family history.