Happy Memorial Day Forest County!
The long weekend ahead of us marks the opening of the summer season for many Northwoods locations. While we are all looking forward to some nice weather and relaxation, it’s important to remember the origins of Memorial Day as a somber holiday set aside to remember the staggering 620,000 people who were killed during the Civil War.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, “The 30th 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,” he proclaimed.
I recently came across of photo depicting Crandon’s 1906 Decoration Day and I’m excited to be sharing with you today.
According to an article published May 25, 1906, in the Forest Republican, Decoration Day 1906 was to be celebrated in Crandon on Wednesday, May 30th with the Woman’s Relief Corps in charge of the program. The program was to feature a procession which would form at the Opera House and promptly move to the cemetery where all the “graves will be decorated and appropriate services held”.
Yet the photo I found yesterday shows Crandon community members heading south down Lake avenue, away from the Opera House and cemetery. Reading a bit further into the Forest Republican I discovered the reason why.
According to a recap of the Decoration Day program published a week later, after the program held at the Opera House, which was “filled with people”, a procession marched to the lake, where the “regular service for the dead was given by the W.R.C. and veterans of the Civil War”.
It is interesting to note that not only do we celebrate in about the same fashion as we did 111 years ago, but that “rain interfered considerably with the observance of ‘Decoration Day 1906”.