Monday, May 31, 2010

"Decoration Day" Weekend

This is a re-post from 2 years ago. May each & every one of you have a great Memorial Day with your family & friends. We will be celebrating late this afternoon as Karen is helping bring babies into this world & April is busy with all of you that think a holiday means..."let's shop!". Burgers & hot dogs are on the menu. Hopefully the rains will hold off until the grilling is done.

May we all take a moment to remember our loved ones. I went to Bonnie & Sherry's gravesite on Saturday & spent a few quiet moments by myself. Seems like I go there more than I thought I would...partly because I am too far away to go to my own parents.

May we also remember our soldiers of the past and the present, those serving our great Nation & protecting us from harm. I proudly fly our American flag! Happy Memorial Day! ...

Do any of you remember when we used to celebrate "Decoration Day"? I think the holiday had a different meaning a few years ago and we celebrated more solemnly. Now our Memorial Day celebrations are more "the beginning of summer"! Not that there is anything wrong with that...

My grandmother & great-grandmother lived next door to each other. Both yards had beds of peonies and I remember these grand ladies gathering up armloads of the huge blossoms to take to the cemetery to put on their family graves. There were probably purple iris and maybe some white lilacs to add to the centerpieces also. But there were always peonies! Neither grandmother had a car so it would be my Mom or Dad's appointed duty to take the grandmas to Mt. Zion Cemetery...just down the gravel road a few miles out of town.

At the old country church, glass Mason jars were filled with well water from the old iron pump that was just outside the cemetery gate. The grandmas would arrange their peonies to make beautiful bouquets and then would walk the cemetery to place them next to their loved ones.

Mt. Zion Church & Cemetery Hallsville, Boone County, Missouri

As a little girl, I remember running through the tombstones, careful not to step in the area where our ancestors were sleeping! I knew my great-grandfather was buried there, along with a few great aunts & uncles. But no one told me of the legacy that was really there. Years later I would return to that very cemetery, and after doing family research, realized that many of those markers were in fact links to my family bloodline. I recognized names that through genealogy research I knew were connected to me, but as a child I had no idea and more than likely didn't care. There were Pembertons, Fulkersons, Turners, McMinns, Flints, and on and on...not to mention the names of family friends that meant so much to all of us. My great grandmothers two young sons are buried there...and I have been told that there are 5 slaves buried near my Fulkerson family, but there are no markers. Later my great grandmother Pemberton would be buried by her husband, Samuel. There are more great grandmothers and great grandfathers, and even some great-greats!

Just today I did a little research, wondering why we used to call this holiday "Decoration Day" but now it is "Memorial Day". Seemingly it all began after the Civil War when the ladies of the South would decorate their fallen hero's grave site late in the spring when their springtime flowers were in full bloom. The tradition spread & it became a holiday to remember our fallen soldiers.

And we still remember them on this our Memorial Day weekend, along with celebrating family time and the beginning of our summer season.

Now that I know that my families migrated to Missouri from Kentucky, Tennessee & Virigina, maybe they brought with them the tradition of Decoration Day. I know the grandmas would never let the last of May pass without putting their jars of peonies on the tombstones of Mt. Zion!