Howard County Indiana USGenWeb
Memorial Day/Decoration Day Observations in Howard County
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:
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.
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
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:
-- Kokomo Dispatch 30 May 1901, page 4
- 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,
- 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
[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.
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
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
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'".