This observation, first known as ‘Decoration Day’ honored the fallen soldiers, Union and Confederate, who died during the 1861-1865 American Civil War. Most families today have at least one ancestor who either served in the military during the Civil War or was directly impacted by the war. That is why so many people are fascinated about the Civil War – especially with it in 2015 being the 150th anniversary of the close of the war.
Of course many graves of fallen soldiers had be decorated with flowers before any official ‘Decoration Day’ began. The first official observation was in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865. Another official date was May 30, 1868 with events held in 183 cemeteries in numerous locations, some 27 states. The next year there were 336 cemeteries where ceremonies were held.
Doylestown, PA held the first Memorial (Decorations’ Day) Parade in May 1867 and in Ironton, Ohio joined in with their own annual parade in May 1868.
The name of the holiday gradually changed about 1887 from Decoration Day to Memorial Day but the official change for the whole nation did not begin until 1967.
A very special ceremony will be held Monday, May 25th as part of the Memorial Day programs for Martin County, FL. At noon, there will be the unveiling and the naming of the large white park gazebo in the heart of downtown Stuart, Florida for one of Stuart’s sons, US Army LT Forest K. ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, who had not only been a local sports hero in the 1930s and early 1940s, but showed such valor and bravery on Omaha Beach during D-Day, June 6, 1944 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He was wounded in the head on the beach and died from those injuries in 1954, a young man of 34 years. The town and community will gather to honor this brave local fellow, 61 years after this death, showing that they have not forgotten him.
Photos: Fergie Ferguson and the Bronze Plaque in Stuart.
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