Commemorations more honor the start of summer local news


The “unofficial” start of summer is usually considered the weekend of Memorial Day. Families gather for outdoor cooking, camping, and boating. The reason for the vacation is sometimes lost and the original name of the day has all but disappeared.

Memorial Day was once known as Decoration Day – a day when the graves of military veterans were adorned with flags and other items to honor their service in this country.

The day of decoration started shortly after the civil war. It was a day when the graves of fallen soldiers were honored and adorned. The day still has the same meaning and it is still in honor of those who struggled to keep us all free.

The Müller-Post No. 1 of the Great Army of the Republic celebrated the Day of Decoration on May 29, 1880. This year’s committee respectfully urged the citizens to close their respective offices from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on that day and, together with the post office, honor the names of the fallen heroes of our country. “

The program in 1880 consisted of a detail of GAR members going to the Baytown cemeteries with a drum corps to decorate the graves. In the afternoon the program moved to Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater. In Fairview, the band played the “Lamentation”, then Rev. AA Kiehl said a prayer.

A quartet then sang a song and the band played “America”. After the band gave the address of Captain JP Rea, the cross was decorated in the cemetery, followed by the graves.

In 1892 there was a line march down North Main Street to Commercial Avenue; Commercial to Second; Second to Chestnut; Chestnut to third street; Third after pine; Pine to the fourth and then to Fairview Cemetery. In the cemetery, the program consisted of a talk by JH Davidson and the song “We Will Always Keep Your Memory Green” was sung by a quartet.

Five years later, the Decoration Day program took place in the Grand Opera House. That year Rev. CA Cressy said a prayer; A vocal solo by Mrs. Eva Thelan and the address by Archbishop John Ireland.

In 1907, the Memorial Day program was probably one of the most elaborate in the city’s history. More than 10,000 people were on the Pine Street courthouse. There were 273 young school girls creating a “living flag” and a parade that ended at the courthouse, which was 15 blocks long. Portraits were posted in several places along the parade route, one of President Abraham Lincoln, one of President James Garfield, and one of President William McKinley.

In addition to the school children in the living flag, other school children came from all over the county. From the Hay Lake School in Scandia, 20 students and their teacher Alice Welander took part. Amos Hill brought 24 of his students from District No. 10, and Jennie Horning brought a “group” of students from District No. 76 with her.

The program had a talk by Daniel W. Lawler and ended with the decoration of the graves of the veterans. As the Stillwater Gazette said, “It was an event that will forever set an example for the entire country on how memorial days should be observed.”

In 1911 the Reverend Dr. Shutter from Minneapolis delivered the Memorial Day address, which was held on May 30th. In 1913, Memorial Day was celebrated with Civil War veterans on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Over time, the number of GAR veterans able to tackle Memorial Day events declined until the late 1920s the honor of decorating the graves of the veterans was transferred to the American Legion Post 48 in Stillwater.

Dedication Day, or Remembrance Day, is here to thank those who have helped keep our land free – and a day to thank those who still protect our county today.

Brent Peterson is the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.

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