Decoration Day

Decoration Day, Kingsley, Michigan, 1909, courtesy Kingsley Branch Library

Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays…. The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Wikipedia’s Memorial Day entry notes that the holiday may have begun as Decoration Day on May 1, 1865 when freed slaves joined with clergy, teachers and citizens of Charleston SC to form a gathering 10,000 strong to memorialize 257 Union prisoners of war and celebrate the “Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.” In 1866, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Gen. John Murray, proclamation for “Decoration Day” to be observed nationwide. May 30th was selected specifically because it was not the anniversary of a battle.

Michiganders can feel a measure of pride that Michigan in 1871 was the first to make “Decoration Day” an official state holiday. Read more about in Michigan’s First Memorial Day from Michigan History Magazine on Absolute Michigan.

The photo shows the parade held in Kingsley on Decoration Day in 1909. In foreground is a marching band. The largest building in the background is Brownson Sanitarium. It’s from the collections of the Kingsley Branch Library. Here’s another photo of the “Kingsley Cornet Band.”

Next Saturday you might want to join the library for the first annual Kingsley Adams Fly Festival with fly-tying lessons, music & food with special guest R. W. “Bob” Summers, someone who I once had the good fortune to interview.

2 thoughts on “Decoration Day

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