civil war

It Happens At The End Of Each May, But Do You Know Why?


The Indianapolis 500, family gatherings, picnics, fishing, boating and the unofficial first long weekend of Summer and yes all of these occur on the same day. We call it Memorial Day, but it’s not supposed to about these things but remembering those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Indy 500
2007 Indianapolis 500 | Photo by

Waterloo, New York was officially designated as the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966, but there are more than two dozen cities and towns that claim to be the place where it really started. Most of us know this, but many have forgotten when and how it all began.

First Memorial Day Sign
First Memorial Day Waterloo, NY | Photo by

That first “Decoration Day” held on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, New York was more of a local event similar to the same remembrances that were held in various cities and towns all over the country.

The first “Decoration Day” ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery was in 1868. The graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there were decorated by the 5,000 people in attendance. Future President General Ulysses S. Grant was in attendance and General James A. Garfield, another future President of the United States, gave a speech. About 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War which is the largest number of Americans killed in any war. For comparison 407,300 Americans died from all causes in WWII.

General James A. Garfield
General James A. Garfield | Image by

General John Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and a U.S. Congressman, first proclaimed Decoration Day on May 5th,1889.The formal declaration in his General Order no. 11 as quoted in Logan said “The 30th of May 1889 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Apparently the date was chosen specifically because it was not the anniversary of any battle.

General John A. Logan
General John A. Logan Statue Chicago, IL | Image by

New York, in 1873, was the first state to recognize the holiday. Back to “By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after WW I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honor Americans who died in any war).”

John F. Kennedy Grave
Eternal Flame At Grave Of President John F. Kennedy | Photo by

In modern times, the largest military cemetery is the Arlington National Cemetery. I visited Arlington back in 1969 while attending a broadcasting school in Washington, D.C. and the most striking memory I have was the “Eternal Flame” at the grave of President John F. Kennedy.

The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Day The Earth Stood Still | Image by

My first recollection of that cemetery was from a scene in my favorite science fiction movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” In one scene Michael Rennies’s character Klaatu asks the little boy Bobby, played by Billy Gray of Father Knows Best fame, if all of those people buried there died in wars. The answer was most of them and the boy’s father was buried there. The alien Klatu found that startling because he said where he came from they didn’t have wars.

Here in the Willamette Valley, local wineries staged events over the holiday weekend and  cemeteries held their Memorial Day remembrance services. As usual local cemeteries held service commemorating those who have died in service to our country. I would normally show you pictures of these events, but this column published before they have occurred this year.

Cemetery Flags
Memorial Day Flags On Graves At Sunset Hills Cemetery, Eugene | Photo by Tim Chuey

If you have an idea for a future topic let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Oregon State’s Attitude: “Nothing to Lose”

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Put Down Your Pitchfork: Oregon Born, Duck Raised, Husky Alumnus?

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Despite Adversity, Ducks Can Right the Ship

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Ducks Finish Season Victorious in Civil War Slugfest

The Oregon men’s basketball team finished the regular season with their fifth straight win in a hard fought 65-62 victory over Oregon State Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum. The Ducks improve to 23-8 overall (13-5 Pac-12), earning a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament and just one game...

UO Edges OSU in Civil War Thriller

mbb civil war picCORVALLIS, Oregon – An NCAA Tournament berth is seemingly assured for the UO men’s basketball team after the Ducks used clutch free-throwing shooting in the final 30 seconds to survive a Civil War slugfest, 65-62, before 9,339 raucous fans in Gill Coliseum.

How It Happened: The Ducks (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12) took command after the sixth and final tie of the night, at 52-52 in the final five minutes. On a set play out of a timeout, Dwayne Benjamin used a Joseph Young screen to find space for a three-pointer that put Oregon up for good. Young then forced a steal at midcourt, drove the lane and dished to Dillon Brooks for an emphatic dunk. The Beavers (17-13, 8-10) scored twice to get within one, but Elgin Cook, Brooks and Jalil Abdul-Bassit each hit two of two free throws in the final 30 seconds to clinch it for Oregon.

Before the teams slugged it out over the final minutes, it was a game of runs. Oregon opened up with an 8-0 lead, and the Beavers used a 7-1 spurt to get within 11-10. Oregon State clawed ahead, using a 10-2 run to lead 28-19, before the Ducks again scored eight in a row to get within 28-27. The score was tied at halftime, 32-32, and the Beavers scored the first six out of halftime before Oregon used two different 7-0 runs to lead 48-44. The second 7-0 run came after OSU’s Gary Payton II picked up his third and fourth fouls on consecutive possessions with more than 13 minutes left. He went to the bench with the Beavers up 44-41, their last lead.

Who Stood Out: Cook made 7-of-12 field goals to score 17 points and lead four UO scorers in double figures. Young added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Abdul-Bassit and Benjamin scored 12 apiece.

What It Means: Oregon is “off the bubble (and) in the field” for the NCAA Tournament, projects Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. The Ducks take a five-game winning streak into the conference tournament next week, having won nine out of their last 10.

Odds and Ends: The Ducks have now lost the battle on the boards just twice in their last nine games, despite relying on a lineup that rarely goes bigger than 6-foot-7. … Payton barely missed a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. … UO football coaches Mark Helfrich, Don Pellum, Scott Frost, Steve Greatwood and Matt Lubick sat behind the Oregon bench. … With no seniors to honor prior to their final home game, Oregon State started five walk-ons, all Oregon natives. The Beavers subbed in their usual starters after two possessions by each team, with the Ducks leading 3-0.

Up Next: The Ducks begin play in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas next Thursday, most likely as the No. 3 seed (8:30 p.m., ESPN). They would face the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between the No. 6 and No. 11 seeds, still to be determined by play this weekend.

Story provided by Oregon athletics.

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