As I mentioned in an article of last year, New Hampshire’s special day to remember our FALLEN military was originally called DECORATION DAY. It was a custom that began following the Civil War, when many of the dead never made it back to be buried in a family plot. Besides flowers and wreaths, visitors to the resting place of the fallen often left personal tokens, such as amulets, a stone or round glass object, shells, and notes, in addition to an American flag (or a Confederate one in the South).
Twine laurels to lay o’er the Blue and Gray, spread
wreaths where our heroes rest;
Let the song of the North echo back from the South
for the love that is truest and best!
Twin wreaths for the tombs of our Grant and our
Lee, one anthem for Jackson and Meade.
And the flag above you is the banner for me–one
people in name and deed!
–Memorial Day 1889 by Samuel Ellsworth Kiser
The idea for Decoration Day did NOT start in New Hampshire. Per Snopes, “According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “After World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to honor those who died in all American Wars….Then in 1971, by an act of Congress, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday….The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 pm local time on Memorial day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.”
This year I plan to use the entire month of June–when we also celebrate D-Day, WW2 (June 6) Flag Day (June 14) and Father’s Day (June 19)–to honor those who have served in the military, and especially those who did not return home alive. I hope if you are a blogger, that you will join me in this project. If you transcribe a memorial list, I recommend that you submit it to Heather Wilkinson Rojo’s “Honor Roll Project.”
In addition to the stories (mentioned below) of New Hampshire women and men who served bravely in various wars, I will also be posted stories about military casualties of World War 1 who were not from New Hampshire. I have a collection of photographs of men who died in World War One that I would like to share with my readers. This series is called “Not New Hampshire: The Lost Faces of WW One.”
**MILITARY MEMORIAL STORIES WRITTEN for 2016**
[links to be posted and added here during the month of June]
First Portsmouth New Hampshire Casualty of World War 1: Lieutenant Frank Booma (1893-1918)
Nashua New Hampshire’s Secretary, World War 2 WASP and Carmelite Nun: Anita L. Paul aka Sister Teresa (1924-2010)
WW2 Captured at Bataan, Philippines, Died A POW: Somersworth New Hampshire’s Lt. Col. Joseph Albert Sullivan (1895-1942)
Civil War Casualty of Gettysburg, Former News Reporter, Lancaster NH’s Famed Col. Edward E. Cross (1832-1863)
Korean War Casualty, POW at Battle of Unsan: Swanzey NH’s Reginald Ernest Frazier (1932-1951)
Deeds of Valor–Spanish-American War Medal of Honor Recipient: Bradford New Hampshire’s Walter Scott West (1872-1943)
Pilot Casualty of WW2: Nashua, New Hampshire’s Ensign Paul Boire, USNR
A Wounded Survivor of the War of 1812: Nottingham New Hampshire’s Colonel Joseph Cilley (1791-1887)
Chief Nurse of WW1 Expeditionary Forces, Red Cross Chief Nurse Harvard Unit, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing Founder, National Association President and Pioneer of American Nursing: Nashua New Hampshire’s Carrie May Hall (1873-1963)
Let us always remember them.
*Old Victorian postcards from the personal collection of the editor, Janice W. Brown.