Posts tagged ‘Memorial Day’

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2019

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.

May 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2016

Assessing the Toll.

Memorial Day, a holiday that grew out of efforts to honor the dead of the Civil War — North and South — commemorates the fallen. Veteran’s Day, as the Washington Post points out, was created after World War I to honor all who served their country in war and peace.

They say Freedom has a price. The chart below shows how Americans have been paying that price for more than 200 years.

Military deaths chart

The photos below show that debt has been paid — with interest — by the living as well.

Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery 2015

Army photo by Rachel Larue

Brittany, left, and her four-year-old son, Christian, spend time at the grave of husband and father, Marine Corps Sergeant Christopher Jacobs, in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Christian wore his father’s cover (uniform hat) during the Memorial Day visit.

Memorial Day FistBump

Dept. of Defense  photo by Roger Wollenberg

Marine Corps veterans Eric Rodriguez, left, and Anthony McDaniel fist bump during the gold medal wheelchair basketball competition at the 2016 Invictus Games for wounded warriors in Orlando, Florida on May 12.

May 30, 2016 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 28, 2016)

Honor Duty.

Flags-In at Arlington National Cemetery

U.S. Army photo by Rachel Larue

Soldiers place American flags in front of headstones during “Flags In” at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia (May 26, 2016).

Every year soldiers assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” place approximately 230,000 flags before each of the cemetery’s headstones in preparation for the Memorial Day holiday.

To see more photos of the simple, somber, beautiful event, click here.

A poem,

Bivouac of the Dead

.

 

May 27, 2016 at 11:44 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2014

The Long Remember.

Unknown Union dead at Memphis National Cemetery in Tennessee. (National Park Service photo)

Unknown Union dead at Memphis National Cemetery in Tennessee.
(National Park Service photo)

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 locals used to decorate soldiers’ and sailors’ graves.

As part of that tradition, there are ceremonies at military cemeteries throughout the United States, as well as speeches, wreath laying and parades of veterans and military units. Over the years, however, the holiday has morphed into the unofficial start of the summer vacation season for picnics, fireworks, concerts, and summer retail sales. But with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being waged for over a decade, a wider number of Americans are taking time to pause and remember the real reason for the holiday.

Each May in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment – known as The Old Guard because it is the oldest serving unit of the Army –  fan out across Arlington National Cemetery’s rolling lines of graves — and in a matter of just a few hours — place thousands of small U.S. flags before each marker and then salute.

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place flags in front of the gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., May 22, 2014.  (U.S. Army photos by Specialist Cody W. Torkelson)

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place flags in front of the gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., May 22, 2014.
(U.S. Army photos by Specialist Cody W. Torkelson)

SHAKO

SHAKO 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.

May 26, 2014 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2012

Lest We Forget

Sundown at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Kansas. The dead rest by the hundreds. (4GWAR photo)

Here in the United States, it is easy to understand why Memorial Day is seen by many as a national holiday that marks the unofficial beginning of summer — especially since its date of observance was changed in 1971 from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

But the holiday started out as a day set aside to decorate the graves of the fallen from the Civil War and to remember their sacrifice. Originally in the North it was known as Decoration Day and Memorial Day in the South. In November, on Veterans Day, we honor the living who have served their country in uniform.

Your 4GWAR editor thought it was important to note — as newspaper editorial writers have done for decades — that Memorial Day is more than a collection of patio furniture sales, ball games, car races, band concerts, picnics and fireworks. It is a day to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Their deaths may not have all been heroic — many a warrior succumbed to disease or accident without ever meeting the enemy — but they are all certainly heroes, and deserve at least a pause in holiday activities to be remembered.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Regiment, “the Old Guard,” place small flags in front of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Coffee)

 

SHAKO 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.

May 28, 2012 at 1:00 am 1 comment

MEMORIAL DAY: WASHINGTON 2011

Band of Brothers

Vietnam veterans outside the Lincoln Memorial after many rode from the Pentagon to the National Mall. Defense Dept. photo by Linda Hosek

Every Memorial Day weekend, thousands of motorcycle-riding veterans — many from the Vietnam era — descend on the nation’s capital to remember the fallen as well as the missing in action and prisoners of war who never came home.

On Memorial Day, which grew out of the custom of decorating the graves of Civil War dead, Americans are asked to remember those heroes and all those who have died in every U.S. conflict since.

These grizzled, hard-looking men were once the boys who went overseas to fight for their country in wars too many have already forgotten.

Their commitment is probably best reflected in the words of Shakespeare, who  described comrades in arms from another, earlier war in one of the most stirring speeches ever written: “We few, we happy few. We band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me is my brother.”

To see a slide show of the Rolling Thunder Event, click here and here.

May 30, 2011 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment


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