Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Way off topic...Decoration Day

Most of you are familiar with Memorial Day
and the placing of flowers on the graves
of fallen soldiers, but the tradition started
long before and far away.
In America, Decoration Day can be traced
to the mountains of Western North Carolina
and Virginia and the ceremony was taken
by the government after the Civil War and the date changed in 1971.

In Western North Carolina the tradition of Decoration Day
is still going strong. In the late spring families
and communities meet at the burying ground to
clean the graves and place flowers at the graves...
lots and lots of flowers. The graveyards look like this all year
round and I find them to be beautiful.

I am the keeper of all of the old, old family

pictures and have many photos taken on Decoration Day.

The family all lined up against a hill every year and had their photo taken.

I can see year by year how the children that would be my Great Grandparents

and Grandparents and my Great Aunts grew from childhood.

They would bring baskets of food and socialize all the day

and a good time was had by all.

It was the precursor to a family reunion, I believe.

I plan to attend the Decoration Day ceremonies at

Sawmill Hill this year and to bring my son. He is fascinated

by the family burying ground and the generations he can see

listed before him on the tombstones

and I think he would find the laying of the flowers

to be 'awesome!' I think I should reconnect with

the traditions that my family held dear for

so many hundreds of years too. I find myself too

far removed from my family and the rich history

of the struggles of the first settlers

in these rugged mountains.

It would do my soul good.

And no stone is left untended.

Even the ones that are so ancient as to be but

simple creekstone markers to show that a life was lived.

How long ago did this person laugh
and plant and harvest?
How many snows and springs went by?
Whom did they love?

Yep. I am going to Decoration Day this year
and a good time will be had by all.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - what a beautiful post! I have never heard of this before, what an amazing tradition. Having all those old photos too... awesome!!!