Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day in Lorain – 1912

I close out this week with a look back at Memorial Day in Lorain back in 1912, when there were still many surviving Civil War veterans. The holiday, which we will be observing this coming Monday, was celebrated very differently back then.

Here's the account of the 1912 Memorial Day observance as it was reported in the Lorain Times-Herald on Friday, May 31, 1912. There are some stirring sentiments quoted from the speeches made that day regarding patriotism that are still very appropriate today.

Thousands Cheer as Old Soldiers Pass in Parade--National Colors Adorn Homes--Speakers Pay Glowing Tribute to Boys of '61 and Tender Hands Strew Flowers on Graves

Lorain celebrated Memorial day in a quiet manner, though the celebration was none the less earnest than in former years. War-scarred veterans marched to the tap of the drum and the blare of brass as they passed through lines on either side of which stood young and old, joining in the tribute to the heroes whose deeds have meant so much to the nation. Graves of the departed veterans were decorated and the living members of the Grand Army of the Republic were decorated with the national colors and were paid homage wherever they went. In all parts of the city the spirit of the day was in evidence. Flags and bunting adorned nearly every house in the city.

Little folks carried tiny flags and older persons wore the national colors and bottonierres of their favorite flowers.

The observance of the day began at 10 a. m. when the parade formed at the loop and moved south to Ninth street thence to Washington avenue and to the public square. It was a small procession but an impressive one. The whole affair was quiet and unpretentious. The public paid its tribute to the old soldiers without any fuss or ostentation.

Heading the procession was the colors guard, followed by August Baldwin, who in the absence of W. S. Pole acted as marshal.

Immediately following the marshal came the drum corps and the German Military society. The Siebenbergen society came next and was followed by the members of the G. A. R. Faragut post in automobiles. In this same division were the "True Blue" ladies as they were called by the banner on their vehicles, members of the W. R.C. The Sons of Veterans came next in line and then the Kusiosko Polish hand of this city and several Polish societies. The last division included school children, carrying flags. This division was in charge of T. C. Cook.

At the public square the parade disbanded and the big crowd gathered about the band stand from where the exercises were conducted. To the accompaniment of the band, the audience, under the direction of Griffith J. Jones sand "America," and Marshal Baldwin introduced Rev. F. W. Tyler, who made the principal address and C. F. Adams, who gave a brief talk. Several selections were rendered by the band and the German Military society and one of the Polish societies fired salutes.

Mr. Tyler's talk was somewhat brief, but none the less stirring. He paid a glowing tribute to the valor of the men who enlisted in the Civil War. He denounced anarchists and others who come to America to seek to tear down her institutions. "Although the anarchists may shake his dirty hands in your faces," he said to the old soldiers, "this starry banner shall never be torn down." He said the men who come here and who are parts of the movements known as anarchism, the Black Hand and the like, should be sent out, deported. He said the doors should be open to the men of the Old World who desire to come here to make America their home, to become citizens and supporters of the Union.

Mr. Tyler laid much stress on the necessity of teaching patriotism in the schools and said the free school is the institution on which America shall build her hopes for the future.

Mr. Adams spoke briefly: "If these resorts out here would close and could all be quiet for a day and let the nation mourn it would be better for us all." He advocated the observance of Memorial day as a solemn occasion, devoid of frivolity and amusements. He called attention to the need of every American realizing his full sense of duty in order that the ideas for which the soldiers of the Civil War had fought might be carried out. "The day is one of sorrow, but it also one of joy, because we know that in the hour of the nation's need the men of a generation ago sacrificed their lives on the altar that the country might live and that its sacred institutions might stand."

At 7 a. m. members of the G. A. R. and the W. R. C. were taken to the cemeteries in automobiles where they decorated the graves of the departed soldiers. During the day there were hundreds who went to the cemeteries and who paid a like tribute to the hero dead.

If you're wondering what those G. A. R. veterans looked like in 1912, this photo will give you a pretty good idea. It comes to me courtesy of historian and archivist Dennis Lamont and it depicts a 1911 gathering of the McLaughlin Post 131 of the G. A. R. from Mansfield, Ohio at Lorain for the big Ohio Grand Army of the Republic encampment.

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