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Decoration Day

Mystic Seaport will pay tribute to fallen Civil War soldiers during the Museum’s annual Decoration Day ceremony on Monday, May 25.

Known today as Memorial Day, Decoration Day was formally instituted by the U.S. Government in 1868 as a day of national remembrance of those killed during the Civil War. Decoration Day observances included tending and decorating the graves of the fallen, church services, solemn processions, and community suppers.

At midday, amid the tolling of steeple bells, all are welcome inside the Greenmanville Church for a brief service complete with a sermon and hymns. A somber procession to the waterfront follows. Led by a uniformed color guard playing a funeral march, participants lay a wreath of flowers at the cannon in front of the Performance Stage and hand another down to a rowboat waiting at the wharf. As the procession reaches the end of Middle Wharf, “Taps” begins and the boat moves out past the Charles W. Morgan, where the wreath is trailed in the water. Three gun salutes are fired as “Taps” concludes; the wreath is released, and everyone is provided with a flower to cast onto the river.

In addition to the Museum’s chantey show, the afternoon music performance features a fife and drum contingent, who illustrates the role of music on the homefront, in camp, and on the battlefield during the Civil War.

Being the final year of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary commemoration, the day concludes with a gathering in the Seamen’s Friend Society Reading Room where visitors can meet the Museum’s roleplayers whose characters were impacted by the Civil War.