Memorial Day 1894

In honor of Memorial Day, here’s a 120 year old reminder to honor our veterans.

Memorial Day

“SUN SHINES ON GRAVES.

Memorial Day Brings Out a Great Concourse to Decorate the Mounds of Soldiers.

VETERANS REMEMBER THEIR COMRADES.

Business in the City Generally Suspended – Chilly Atmosphere Dispelled by Warm Rays.

The cold, chilly air of early morning gave promise of a disagreeable day for the ceremonies attendant on Memorial day, but before 9 o’clock the sun began dodging in and out from the broken clouds overhead and the promise of bright, beautiful weather for the parade and the services and the ceremonies brought out smiles on the faces of the old veterans.

The grand march of the afternoon was temporarily forgotten and men, women and children, G.A.R. posts, Sons of Veterans, Daughters of Veterans, women of the G.A.R. and a dozen other organizations turned their faces toward the many cemeteries about Chicago.

With flowers and wreaths by the basketful and armful, people rushed across town to catch the early suburban trains to the burial places to decorate the mounds above husbands, brothers, sons and fathers. Hundreds who had no soldier graves to decorate joined hands with those who had and paid tribute to the heroic dead or placed their garlands on the tombs of other friends.

Nearly every early suburban train which passed near a cemetery was crowded to the guards. In sunshine or storm, whatever the weather, the yearly visit must be paid. And in winter wraps the loyal friends hurried to the depots early this morning long before the steady stream of sunshine made certain a perfect day.

With the assurance of bright, pleasant weather the aspect of the city changed like the unfolding of a flower. Banners were flung to the breeze, flags were raised over the down-town buildings and draped over the doors and windows of the residences. When the people felt sure they wouldn’t get wet they began pouring into the down-town streets just as the troops with drums beating came marching down the thoroughfare to the cemetery trains.

Before noon nearly every store in the city had closed its doors for the day and the thousands of employe[e]s turned out for a holiday and swelled the crowds on the streets into immense throngs. Assurance had been given that a fine day was the only contingency that was required to insure the greatest Memorial day parade ever seen in Chicago and everybody wanted to see it. Thousands of visitors from out of the city came to see Chicago’s celebration of the national holiday. A little boy from someplace down in Egypt, who had his hat jammed down over his eyes, said: “Paw, I’ll be dad burned if I ever see’d the ekal o’ this up till yit.” And his pa said; “Yes, me child, this is a bigger crowd ‘an I ever seed in Olney.”

The article above appeared on the front page of the May 30th, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News.

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