Lest They Be Forgotten ...
The Origin of Memorial Day
the May, 1893 issue of "Confederate Veteran,"
It is a matter of
history that Mrs. Chas. J. Williams, of Columbus, Ga., instituted the beautiful
custom of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers, a custom which has been
adopted throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams was the daughter of Maj.
John Howard, of Milledgeville, Ga., and was a superior woman. She married Maj.
C. J. Williams on his return from the Mexican War. As colonel of the First
Georgia Regulars, of the Army in Virginia, he contracted disease, from which he
died in 1862, and was buried in Columbus, Ga.
Mrs. Williams and her little girl visited his grave every day, and often
comforted themselves by wreathing it with flowers. While the mother sat
abstractly thinking of the loved and lost one, the little one would pluck the
weeds from the unmarked soldiers' graves near her father's and cover them with
flowers, calling them her soldiers' graves.
After a short time while the dear little girl was summoned by the angels to join
her father. The sorely bereaved mother then took charge of these unknown graves
for the child's sake, and as she cared for them thought of the thousands of
patriot graves throughout the South, far away from home and kindred, and in this
way the plan was suggested to her of setting apart one day in each year, that
love might pay tribute to valor throughout the Southern States. In March, 1868,
she addressed a communication to the Columbus Times, an extract of which I give:
"We beg the
assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the
effort to set apart a certain day to be observed from the Potomac to the Rio
Grande, and to be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South,
to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers, and we propose the 26th
day of April as the day."
She then wrote to the Soldiers' Aid Societies in every Southern State, and they
readily responded and reorganized under the name of Memorial Associations. She
lived long enough to see her plan adopted all over the South, and in 1868
throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams died April 15, 1874, and was buried
with military honors. On each returning Memorial Day the Columbus military march
around her grave, and each deposits a floral offering.
The Legislature of Georgia, in 1866, set apart the 26th day of April as a legal
holiday in obedience to her request. Would be that every Southern State observed
the same day.
The Georgia and North Carolina Divisionís will be Holding a Joint
Dedication of the New North Carolina Monument for the 29th and
39th Infantry Regiments at the Allatoona Pass Battlefield on
Saturday April 9, at 11:00 am.
Fore more information: http://ConfederateHeritageMonth.com or http://GeorgiaSCV.org
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