Blogs > Cliopatria > For Memorial Day ...

May 30, 2005 7:21 am

For Memorial Day ...

These three different accounts of the history of Memorial Day, themselves, offer an exercise in the weighing of rival claims and alternate narratives:

HNN Staff,"What Are the Origins of Memorial Day?" 27 May 2002.
David Merchent,"Memorial Day History," 30 August 2004.
"The History of Memorial Day," History Channel, 29 May 2005.

Other, scattered news of the day suggests that stories and memory are complicated.

Chris Carola,"Timing of Statue's Unveiling Upsets Vets," AP, 28 May.
Kristen Wyatt,"Southern Yankees Embrace Civil War History," AP, 28 May.

For thinking about war in all its complexity, I recommend that you introduce yourself to Mark Grimsley's War Historian. Just scroll down.

Finally, there are Doonesbury's tribute to America's men and women killed in the current wars; and Cynthia Gorney's"A Mother's War," New York Times Magazine, 29 May. Is there a deeper sorrow than that of a mother who must bury her child?

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Ralph E. Luker - 5/30/2005

_Very_ interesting, Caleb. Thanks. I think I'll suggest to Rick Shenkman that he have someone look into this and revise what HNN has on it. If Blight is correct, it would be neat to get it on record with History Channel and other locations.

Caleb McDaniel - 5/30/2005

Ralph, it's interesting that all the stories you linked to on Memorial Day date its observance to 1868. David Blight's Race and Reunion says the first precedents for Decoration Day were set by African Americans in South Carolina as early as May 1865.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/30/2005

I was struck, actually, by Peanuts Classic today. Obviously, it's no longer new material, but the strip chosen for today was a Snoopy-as-WWI-Flying-Ace schtick which ends with him giving up on a mission as he realizes how dangerous it might be. I couldn't tell if it was intended to coincide, or not, and if so, whether it was intended to honor veterans' courage or achieve something else. It might just have been the next strip up in the recycling bin...

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