SHAKO: Memorial Day 2019

May 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

The North Remembers.

Grant_Memorial

Cavalry charge figures at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial between the Capitol and the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Photo by Ad Meskens via Wikipedia, sculpture by Henry Merwin Shrady )

Memorial Day, by federal law, is commemorated annually on the last Monday in May to honor those who gave their lives for their country. The holiday grew out of local ceremonies throughout the North and South after the American Civil War (1861-1865). In many places, the day — traditionally May 30 — was known as Decoration Day for the flowers and flags that locals used to decorate soldiers’ and sailors’ graves.

In past years, 4GWAR postings on Memorial Day have focused on U.S. military cemeteries, the tradition of decorating graves with small American flags at Arlington National Cemetery and remembering the price paid by those we honor on the holiday.

But this year, we note the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments and statues honoring Confederate heroes. To many, they are racist icons created during the Jim Crow er. For others, they are reminders of the “Lost Cause,” and part of an honorable heritage. So we thought we’d look at the monuments and statues — mostly in Northern states — dedicated to those who fought to preserve the Union.

For example, the charging cavalry group pictured above is just part of a massive memorial to Union Army commander and 18th U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant. In fact, that sculpture group, and another depicting a team of artillery horses hurtling along with a caisson and cannon in tow, are far more dramatic than the centerpiece equestrian statute of old “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

Even monuments like this, are not without critics, mainly for honoring leaders who mistreated or ignored the mistreatment of blacks and Indians after the Civil War. Nevertheless, cities and towns from Maine to California have dedicated monuments of all shapes and sizes to Union troops and their leaders. Below is a small sampling from around the country.

Many statues and monuments — particularly in Washington, D.C. — are dedicated to generals like Grant,  William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas, and admirals like Samuel Francis DuPont and David Glasgow Farragut (see photo below).

Admiral_David_Farragut_Statue

(Photo by David Washington, via Wikipedia)

Admiral Farragut, of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” fame, stands atop a granite base in a park and city square named for him. The statue was sculpted by female artist Vinnie Ream. This monument to the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, was dedicated in 1881 in an extravagant ceremony attended by President James A. Garfield  and thousands of spectators. It was the first monument erected in Washington, to honor  a naval war hero.

Other outdoor art works are dedicated to local heroes or favorite sons like the monument to Pennsylvania’s George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and later Civil War battles. Paid for by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when few in Washington favored lionizing Meade — the monument stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, the main route of parades in the nation’s capital.

In Boston, the memorial to young Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, also pays tribute to his 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first African American army units to fight in the Civil War.   The high relief bronze was created by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and readers may remember it was featured at the end of the 1989 Oscar-winning film Glory.

1280px-USA-54th_Regiment_Memorial0

(Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Photo by Jarek Tuszyński via wikipedia commons)

In Washington, D.C., all of the 200,000 African Americans who served in the Union army and navy are remembered in the African American Civil War Memorial.

African-American-Civil-War-Memorial-3_1

(Spirit of Freedom statue by Ed Hamilton 1997, National Park Service photo)

Elsewhere, a single soldier was enough for memorials like the Kent County Civil War Monument in Grand Rapids, Michigan …

KentCountyCivilWarMonumentGrandRapidsMI

(Caption)

Or two in front of the DeKalb County courthouse in Sycamore, Illinois …

Sycamore_Il_Civil_War_Memorial AMurray

(Photo by A. McMurray via wikipedia)

A lone artillery man in Scituate, Rhode Island …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Photo by Beth Hurd via Rhode Island USGenWeb Genealogy and History Project)

A member of New York’s “silk stocking” 7th Militia Regiment, formed by many of the city’s socially elite …

7th_Regt_Memorial_Steele_MacKaye_jeh

(Photo by Jim.henderson)

Monuments to the Union army aren’t limited to the North. This statue, known as “Taps”, is located in Little Rock National Cemetery in Arkansas. It is dedicated to the 36 soldiers from Minnesota who are buried there.

Minnesota_Monument in Ark

(Photo by Valis55 )

*** *** ***

SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

Entry filed under: Army, Navy, Photos, SHAKO, Traditions, U.S. Navy. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (May 24, 2019) FRIDAY FOTO (May 31, 2019)

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GP Cox  |  May 28, 2019 at 6:56 am

    “Lord give me strength”

    Reply
  • 2. John M. Doyle  |  May 28, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the comment, G.P. Couldn’t agree more.

    Reply

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