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Memorial Day/Decoration Day Observations in Howard County

1880 * 1901 * 1925 * 1935 * 1945 *

According to http://www.usmemorialday.org/ Memorial Day, first called Decoration Day, originally honored the dead of the Civil War. The day of rememberance was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Additional information on the Grand Army of the Republic


Decoration Day was first observed in Kokomo in 1881. An article the previous year brought up the issue as follows:

Why Kokomo, usually so prompt and generous in the celebration of Christian anniversaries and National holidays, should have never formally observed Decoration day, we are unable to say. There are a few honored and sacred soldier's graves in our cemeteries -- quite enough to call forth a hearty floral tribute on this sad National anniversary. If there were but the remains of one gallant hero who gave up his life that the Nation might live, it were enough to enlist our united and prayerful tribute once a year. The Dispatch regrets that another Decoration Day is to pass without Kokomo's participation in the tearful solemnities of the occasion. ... Fifteen years ago the last fratricidal gun was fired and the Union was preserved, cemented firmer than ever by the patriot blood of the land. Shall we who live perpetuate the hates and animosities of war when the Blue and the Gray have ceased combat and rest in one common grave? ... The fires of sectional hate are fast dying out, and ere another decade rolls around, will have been extinguished forever. God and Natore are repidly obliterating the traces of that strife. Battle-fields and fortifications, and riflepits are gradually fading away under the gentle hand of Nature. Man, alone, persists in fanning the dying embers of that conflict.
-- Kokomo Dispatch May 27, 1880.

While the newspaper that would have detailed the ceremonies in 1881 is not available, the below article gives an example of how the event was commemorated 20 years later:

Honors to the Dead of War (1901)

The Observance of Memorial Day in Kokomo - Change in Arrangements - Roll Call of the Dead

After nearly a fortnight of drizzle and downpour, with the air almost as chill and bleak as that of winter, Memorial day dawned bright and clear and with the promise that we are to have real May weather at the month's termination. There is practically a famine of flowers such as bloom in the dooryards and are largely used for decorating graves on this occasion, and the demand on florists has been heavy. If the offerings in this line are less profuse than in former years, they will not come with less tender emotions.

A change has been made in the program as announced yesterday, and instead of having the principal address at the high school campus, as was first intended, it will be heard at the Main Street Christian church. The custom has been to have this part of the exercises in the open air, but it has been deemed advisable to go within doors this year. The church has been handsomely decorated and the auditorium is amly large enough to accomodate all who will attend the exercises.

The observance of the day will open with an artillery salute at 12 o'clock noon. The parade will form at 1:30 o'clock. The amended program is as follows:

First Division - T.J. HARRISON Post, G.A.R. and W.R.C. together with all honorably discharged ex-union soldiers and sailors who wish to respect the day and honor the memory of their dead comrades, will form on West Walnut street, with right resting on Washington street. Marshal H.C. SELLERS commanding.

Second Division - Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias and Kokomo Zouaves, will form on North Washington with right resting on Walnut street. Marshall Mahor DOYON, commanding.

Third Division - all other societies and organizations of citizens of the city who may wish to join in the parade will form on South Washington, with right resting on Walnut street. Marshal Orange V. DARBY commanding.

The parade will be under the command of Captain W.H. SUMPTION Chief Marshal, and assistants Major DOYON and O.V. DARBY. Aids-de-camp to chief marshal, J.C. DOLMAN, and H.H. STEWART, Orderlies Glen ELLIS, Tom JAY and Gene MOORE.

The colums will move east on Walnut street to LaFontaine street, south of LaFontaine to High screet, thence east to Crown Point Cemetery.

Program at Soldiers' Monument

    Music by band
    Song by male quartette
    Ritualistic services by T.J. HARRISON post, Grand Army of the Republic.

The services at the monument completed, the column will countermarch to the Main Street Christian Church where the following program will be rendered:

    Music by the band
    Song by quartette
    Reading of orders by post adjutant
    Address -- Prelude -- by Post Commander J.B. BUTCHER
    Song by quartette
    Invocation by Rev. J.F. FLOYD
    Song by quartette
    Roll Call of the Dead by Adjutant
    Song by quartette
    Memorial address by Col. Ivan N. WALKER, Post National Commander G.A.R.
    Song of the People - "America"
    Benediction by Rev. D.V. Williams

No vehicles will be allowed in the cemetery during the afternoon exercises.

Following are the several committees in charge of the exercises of the day:

  • Invitation - H.M. SAILORS, Milton GARRIGUS.
  • Program: O.A. SOMERS, N.D. STANBRO, Milo W. BARNES, Mrs. J.H. ROSS, Mrs. M. BELL, Ladie DAYHUFF.
  • Finance: G.W. LANDON, C.A. JAY, W.F. RUDDELL, J.M. LEACH, Ed A. SIMMONS.
  • Speaker: O.A. SOMERS, Ed A. MOORE, J.C. NISWONGER.
  • Flowers: J.S. LOWE, J.E. MOORE, Deck MOORE, Mesdames Howard LEACH, Dr. BATES, J.E. VAILE, RICKETTS, SIPE, Eldon LONG, Milo W. BARNES, D.C. WILKINS and Bertha HAYES.
  • Stand Decorations: Sol PENNINGTON, Mel SEWARD, H.P. JONES, C.A. DEHAVEN, and Mesdames D.A. SMITH, J. GOODWINE, James EASTER, Fannie MURRAY.
  • Vocal Music: W.H. SUMPTION, Sol BURKETT, M.W. BARNES, Laura KALTER and Mesdames J.C. DOLMAN, G.P. WOOD.
  • Instrumental Music: J.C. NISWONGER, J.H. ARNETT, Mesdames David FRAZEE and Jeff DYE.
  • Grounds: Comrades DEWEESE, MCNUTT, ZEIGLER, DUPLER and John W. COOPER and Mark MCTIGUE.
  • Artillery: D.A. MEGRADY, he to select his assistants.
-- Kokomo Dispatch 30 May 1901, page 4

NOTE: Roll of the Dead to be transcribed separately as time permits


Not surprisingly, World War One brought additional meaning to the observance of this occasion, as noted in the following article.

Decoration Day Observance Has a Double Meaning (1917)

Added Solemnity of Occasion is Reflected in Faces of Thousands Assembled -- Parade is a Big Feature

W.H. ARNETT, chairman of the executive committee which had charge of arrangements for the Memorial Day observance, requests that all bills incurred by any of the sub-committees be promptly forwarded to him.

A meeting of the various committees and of the fraternal organizations which had a part in making the observance the great success it proved to be will meet with the executive committee at a date to be announced later.

Observance of Memorial Day in Kokomo had a double meaning this year, the war clouds now hanging over the country adding to the gravity of the occasion. Not only did Kokomo citizens ysterday turn out to pay homage to the boys who were soldiers a half-century ago, but to the lads who are now in training preparatory to fighting for the United States and the cause of democracy as against autocracy.

The weatherman did his part in making the community observance an entire success. The morning was devoted to decorating the graves of old soldiers and the afternoon was taken up with a specially arranged program.

The parade in the afternoon was viewed by thousands who lined the streets along which it passed and waited at the entrance of Crown Point cemetery for the G.A.R. ritualistic services to begin.

The procession began forming at 1:30 o'clock at Washington and Mulberry streets. At 2 o'clock, it moved east on Mulberry to Market, thence to Sycamore and on Sycamore to Crown Point cemetery.

At the head of the parade marched a platoon of policemen which was followed by the Kokomo City band. Then came automoblies bearing members of the executive committee in charge of arrangements, the speaker of the day, Warren R., VOORHIS, members of the G.A.R., Women's Relief Corps, and children. Fraternal organizations, including members of the Eagles, Moose, Knights of Columbus, and Odd Fellows lodges, and Boy Scouts also were in line.

Commander O.A. SOMERS, of Thomas J. HARRISON Post No. 30 G.A.R. read the opening service at the soldiers' monument. Chaplain D.S. SHAFFER, of the Post, offered prayer. Garlands of flowers were placed by two little girls on the base of the monument. The closing features were the firing of three salutes by a firing squad consisting of members of the Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias, in charge of Earl GRAVES, and the sounding of taps.

The cemetery was crowded with persons who showed their reverence for the departed Civil War heroes and their respect for those who are among the living by maintaining an impressive silence while the service was in progress.

After the service at the cemetery, the parade re-formed and marched to the high school where an appropriate program was rendered. Seated on the stage were the veterans and the speaker of the day.

Commander Somers presided. The opening feature of the program was a selection by the high school orchestra. The singing of "America" by the entire audience followed. The invocation offered by the Rev. Otis A. SMITH was in the nature of an appeal to the Almighty to give the army of the United States the power to wipe out despotism and enable all the peoples of the earth to be free.

A few remarks preliminary to the principal address were made by Commander SOMERS, who emphasized the particular significance of Memorial Day this year and told of the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic and what it has accomplished.

A vocal selection "Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground" by Miss Eleanor EVERSOLE, accompanied by the high school orchestra, was heartily appreciated by the good-sized audience.

Following came the reading of orders issued by General John A. LOGAN establishing Memorial Day and of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address by Adjutant J.H. STONE of the Kokomo Post.

Mrs. C.H. BROWN sang an appropriate selection, which was warmly received by her hearers.

Attorney Warren R. VOORHIS, the principal speaker, was then introduced by Mr. SOMERS. He was at his best and thrilled his auditors by his eloquence and patriotic fervor. His subject wasa "The Immortality of Service".
[speech omitted from transcript]

The singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" by the audience, pronouncing of the benediction by the Rev. M.K. RICHARDSON and a selection by the high school orchestra comprised the concluding events on the program.

The band concert which was to have been given by the Kokomo City band on the court house square yesterday evening as a complimentary affair for the G.A.R. and the Women's Relief Corps was canceled owing to rain.
-- Kokomo Tribune Thursday, May 31st 1917, page 1 & 2

"The New Wreath", an illustration from the front page of the Kokomo Daily Tribune, 30 May 1918 edition, is a poignant visual reminder of this solemn occasion.


After World War I, the name of the observation gradually changed to Memorial Day to reflect its role as a recognition of all who have fought, and died, to preserve our freedom. In Kokomo, the dwindling membership of the G.A.R. still played an important part in the ceremony, as did civic organizations.

In Usual Fine Way (1925)

Decoration of Soldiers' Graves Was Carried Forward Here Saturday

Despite the scarcity of flowers resulting from the frost, a generous impulse of the people saw to it that the soldier dead were not omitted when it came to a distribution of floral fragrance and beauty upon their graves. Crown Point Cemetery revealed its high standard of floral adornment Saturday and no graves lacked the tender tribute of love and reverence for the services the men of war bestowed upon their country regardless of what conflict in which they had engaged.

Aged veterans carried bouquets to the mounds which had been remembered many a year and in no less an affectionate spirit were borne the floral tributes to the graves of those dying in wars of more recent years. Without stint and with zeal almost every yard in the city had contributed its bloom for the honor of the soldier dead.

And the graves of those who died not in war were rich in floral embellishment at both Crown Point and Memorial Park cemeteries. It was an observance long to be remembered and showed that respect and honor are growing yearly instead of diminishing in the hearts of the people for those who fought in their behalf.

The Knights of Pythias home was the headquarters for the floral tributes and automobile after automobile drove there to deliver its precious cargo which was woven and interwoven into wreaths and floral designs of various sorts.

The formal exercises were held at the Main Street Christian church where patriotic citizens gathered to hear a patriotic program. After the singing of "America", the Rev. M.H. GARRARD gave the invocation. A brief address was then given by D.A. SMITH, commander of the local post and chairman of the meeting. Commander SMITH then introducted Miss Frances GORTON, who read Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

Bugler David J. PRICE played the taps, while a reading of the roll of the dead was had by J.H. STONE, adjutant of the local post. The roll call of the Women's Relief Corps was given by Mrs. SOUTHERLAND and for the Spanish-American war veterans by Ernest E. ELLIS.

The Memorial Day address was given by Attorney Lloyd MCCLURE and was an able effort fully worthy of the occasion and a just tribute to the comrades gone on before.

The Memorial day parade included representatives of various official civic, fraternal and patriotic organizations, and was distinguished by several hundred school children who gave it an additional impressiveness and sentiment. The various soldier organizations were largely represented as befit the occasion. The school children were under the direction of Comrades William G. COOPER and John D. EMEHISER of the G.A.R.

The ceremonies at the graves were of the traditional character and the veterans carried out the rites with beauty and solemity.
-- The Kokomo Daily Tribune 1 Jun 1925


Memorial Day observances continued to be an important event, even as the number of veterans for whom the day of rememberance was initiated continued to diminish. The politics of the time appear to influence the speeches given, as noted below.

In 1935, the annual Memorial services were held at Grace Methodist church. The roll call of the dead for the year was read by Dr. J.H. STONE, adjutant of the G.A.R: David W. PERRY(who actually passed away the previous year), J.S. CRAGUN, William H. BOLES, and Wilson HIATT. The parade, marching from Washington and Mulberry streets, to Crown Point Cemetery consisted of veterans from the Civil, Spanish-American and World Wars, as well as members of the American Legion, Sons of the Legion, the Elks, the Student Patrol, and representatives of the Women's Auxiliaries, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Gold Star mothers and the W.R.C. J.H. STONE read the Memorial Day ritual and " ... as he read it, himself a stalwart, active veteran of the Civil War, he saw before him but four of his former comrades of the local post of the G.A.R."

Dr. L.W. KEMPER gave an address in which he indicated that Memorial Day should also become a day in which "to deplore war with its appalling destruction of human life and and the terrific economic burden which it lays upon the nations of the earth." He continued to observe that "the only way to put an end to war is to take the profit out of it by conscripting every man's property and possessions regardless of his position in life and placing him on a equal basis with the $30-a-month soldier".
The Kokomo Tribune Friday, 31 May 1935


Although V-E Day had been declared earlier in the month, the nation was still at war. The 1945 Memorial Day observation was a solemn and reverent affair, as noted in an article on page 1 of the 31 May 1945 issue of The Kokomo Dispatch.

The Memorial day meeting, held at Memorial Hall, opened with Frank SUTHERLAND, chairman of the Memorial day committee, presiding. Songs of the armies from 1861 to 1891 were played by the Post 6 American Legion band. The invocation was offered by Homer J. PARKER of the Spanish-American War Veterans. The band then played songs of the armies from 1917 to 1941. Mrs. Frank FAUCETT read the Gettysburg address. Robert HAMP, accompanied by Violet FAULKNER gave a vocal selection, which was followed by the annual roll call of the dead. The parade "which was small this year, probably due to the fact that many plants were working" moved out east Walnut to Delphos, then to Crown Point cemetery.

The cited article notes that
just to the edge of the "soldiers' circle" was one single grave, which by its very presence became the most poignant note of the day. At hts head there rippled the Union Jack - flag of Great Britain. Here, in an alien land, lay the body of a British navy aviation cadet, killed while training to fight for his country. But his grave was beautifully decorated by the navy mothers, who saw that the flag was at his head and, in a gesture of comradeship, added the flag of the United States -- where he sleeps out his last long slumber."
The main address was given by Dr. Hurd Allyn DRAKE, with the topic of "Rememberance and Rededication". He spoke on the annual reading of the Gettysburg address, drawing the audience's attention to two significant sentences: We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. and It is for us the living to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. Dr. DRAKE reviewed the dead of the nation's wars and added "Rememberance today is not of the past. There are new-made graves in Africa, and Sicily, in France and Belgium, and Guadalcanal and the Phillipines, in in Saipan and Iwo Jima. ... But what gives meaning to all these graves is the high devotion of those who died, and of the others who lived on to serve well their day and generation. They served for a purpose: 'That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom'".
Monument at Crown Point Cemetery
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