Description: This black and white image depicts four well-dressed young women in light-colored dresses bearing flower garlands in the foreground. An older woman in dark mourning attire stands to the left. There is an obelisk-like monument visible the hill behind them with a battlefield scene of fallen soldiers above filling the upper portion of the image.
Historical Note: The practice of decorating graves of fallen soldiers began soon after the Civil War ended. Historian David Blight traces the practice to May 1, 1865 New Orleans. Initially, the days chosen for commemoration varied by location. Among the dates used for commemoration in the South were April 26, the anniversary of General Joseph Johnston's surrender to General William T. Sherman, May 10, the anniversary of General Stonewall Jackson's death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis. In the North, Decoration Day emerged in 1868 with the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans' organization. It was observed for the first time on May 30 precisely because that was not the date of a battle anniversary. Eventually, the name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, which was first used in 1882. After World War II the practice became common and Memorial Day was declared the official name by Federal law in 1967, by which time the memorial was extended to honor all American dead of all wars. This image, of men and women mourning the Civil War dead by decorating graves and monuments, was probably inspired by a wave of monument-building, often organized and funded by women's organizations, and reunion events taking place across the country during the 1880s and 1890s. The inscription reads: "We bring our wreathed garlands. Where are the brows we crown?"
Contributing Institution: HarpWeek
Publisher: Digital Initiatives, James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee
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