Decoration Day

For all discussions relating to military activities in Canada, 1837-1901.

Decoration Day

Postby NWMPMoose » 12 Nov 2017 03:36

Considering today is Remembrance Day, I thought it might be of interest to make a post regarding its predecessor, that few of us have heard of, and even fewer have observed; Decoration Day. I find Remembrance day to contain a strong sense of gratitude for those who have served, great sorrow for those who have fallen, and irony. I will explain the irony to some extent here...

Every Remembrance Day, services, and parades are held throughout the Commonwealth. A speaker will typically remind us of the significance to remember all those who came before, and never take their sacrifice for granted. They will emphasis that ALL our past and present soldiers be commemorated for their service. I of course agree, though the speaker will then specify that we must remember the world wars, perhaps Korea, peacekeeping and our Fourth Afghan war. The above listed conflicts are the only ones I ever hear mentioned at Remembrance Day services. Very obviously, not all our soldiers are being remembered the way they should. Entire wars have been virtually forgotten by the public, or their memory have been severely tainted.

With this in mind, I can't help but think about a day where our lesser appreciated soldiers, and their conflicts can gain the commemoration they deserve. This day, is Decoration Day. It began in 1890 as an act of remembrance for the men who fought in the Battle of Ridgeway, and grew to include paying respects for veterans of other wars, primarily Victorian wars - more precisely; the Fenian Raids, Northwest Rebellion, and the 2nd Anglo Boer War. Decoration Day has its own unique form of being observed, and was well maintained until overshadowed by Remembrance Day in 1931. Now, in 2017, a day created to be a day of remembrance, has become a day all but forgotten. Leslie Stuart was not far off when he penned 'Soldiers of the Queen'. When on the topic of being grateful for what we've come to take for granted, he wrote "But we're forgetting it, and we're letting it, fade away and gradually die...".

That line of the song is very true in far too many senses. Even the conflict ongoing at the time of the song release has now been forgotten by the general public.

I happened across this small write up, which provides a brief summary of Decoration Day and its history. If anyone is interested in some light reading, here's a link;

If anyone has knowledge on the subject and has anything they would like to add, please feel free.
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