According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp for captured Union soldiers in 1865, as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days. On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, proceeded to the location for included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
Later Decoration Day evolved into Memorial day around 1882, but was not popular until after WW2. It wasn’t until 1968 when congress turned it into an official national holiday. Memorial Day is a day for those who severed, but is more specifically to honor those who died protecting our freedom during their time of service.
Matt’s Grandparents –
Joseph Lyons – Served in the army during WWII. Served in the infantry. He married Josephine Muderski during the war.
And no we are not related to Jay Leno 😉
Charles Peter Barrand Served in the army during WWII in a Sherman tank. He was there in the first invasion on North Africa and served under General George Patton. He fought the enemy through North Africa, Italy and on into France, where his tank was hit and he damaged both of his knees. He spent a few months in an Army hospital and returned home to his family.
Sarah’s Grand parents –
Benjamin Tovey Ashby – was drafted into the Army during WWII. I’m sure this was a surprised to him because he was 40 years old but was still unmarried. When he was drafted they classified him as 1A . Being a bachelor he was considered in fine shape to serve his country. Soon after he was called they decided to change him to a 4F. I guess they thought he was too old. But knowing Ben he was probably in better shape than most of the young guys. He was then assigned to serve as a Maintenance Mechanic where he served and taught the younger guys how to repair the equipment. He was an instructor and liked to get things done. The officer over Ben told him that he was going to have to wear white gloves if he didn’t stop working on the equipment himself.. The white gloves would get dirty if he did “hands on” instead of just instruction. He didn’t like that much.
Joseph H Callahan – (Nicknamed Slug) was 20 years old when he joined the Army during WWII. He was sent to Camp Crouder, MO. From Camp Crouder he was sent to Omaha, Nebraska. To get training as a radio operator. While in Omaha in the lobby of the Rome Hotel in 1942, he met a Western Union girl, who had been born and raised in South Dakota. “I was showing off with a bunch of boys, and she was giggling at me. We started talking, and I took her and her dad out to dinner,” he recounted. And with in the year he mailed an engagement ring to Hulda Prochnau. While in Canada, he stayed in the Royal Mounted Canadian Air Force barracks while the U.S. troops were building their own barracks. He was then shipped north to work on the ALCAN Highway. Through the letters that had been written Joe and Hulda decided to get married. Hulda came to Oregon and Joe left Canada on furlough. They were married and both had to go right back. He was 22 when they got married and said he was very lonesome and heartsick. He went back to Canada to the North West Territory Land Project. (CANOL)