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Decoration Day 1876

May 25

Join us, either on site or online as we take some time to reflect on this day’s significance to our past and present.

The significance of Memorial Day goes back to the years immediately following the American Civil War as the country grieved over the loss of nearly 625,000 lives and struggled to heal wounds that tore the nation apart. In April 1866, the women of Columbus, Mississippi placed flowers upon the graves of both the Confederate and Union Soldiers at a local cemetery. Two years later, Major General John A. Logan, head of an organization of Union veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), called upon the nation to decorate the graves of the war’s dead with flowers. This day of remembrance was called “Decoration Day.”

After World War I, this day of remembrance was expanded to honor all of the nation’s war dead. It was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1971.

We will honor the day’s roots by calling the roll of the American Civil War dead interred in Elm Grove Cemetery, circa 1876. The day will also include poetry readings reflecting on the day’s significance, and a group sing of “America (My Country Tis of Thee).” We will also take a moment to reflect on our present-day circumstances and honor the sacrifices made by healthcare workers across the nation and the world. The day’s observance will conclude with a communal casting of flowers and floral wreaths into the Mystic River. Guests are encouraged to bring their own small flower wreath (please only use materials found in nature – no plastics or other synthetic materials of any kind).

The event will occur at noon on Monday, May 25, on the foredeck of the Charles W. Morgan. The ceremony will also be  streamed via Facebook Live to allow for virtual participation.