This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
DECORATION-DAY, one of the American national holidays, occurs May 30 of each year, and is devoted, with appropriate ceremonies, to decorating with flowers the graves of the soldiers who fell in the civil war between the Northern and Southern States, from 1861 to 1865, both inclusive. The custom originated among the women of the Southern States in the early years of the contest, and was annually observed by them. This touching memorial of the honored dead soon became general throughout the country, and in 1868 and 1869 the 30th day of May was set apart for its observance by order of General John A. Logan, who was then commander-in-chief of the military association known as the "Grand Army of the Republic. "Since then it has been regularly observed by the society, the following being some of the established forms.
The Post Commander of each post having previously issued an order for the meeting of all its me mbers at the Post Hall, or elsewhere, on Decoration-Day, the comrades, in uniform, gather at the appointed time and place, and quietly take their usual stations.
While the comrades stand at ease, the Chaplain offers this prayer:
Almighty Father! humbly we bow before Thee, our Creator, Preserver, Guide and Protector. We thank Thee for our lives: for the mercy which has kept us until this hour; for Thy guidance in our marches by day and by night; for Thy constant care in the hour of danger; and for the preservation of our national integrity and unity. Be graciously near to our comrades who suffer from disease or wounds, and to the widows and orphans of those who fell in our holy cause; in all distress comfort them, and give us willing hearts and ready hands to supply their needs. Grant that the memory of our noble dead, who freely gave their lives for the land they loved, may dwell ever in our hearts. Bless our country; bless our
The Arrangement of a Funeral Procession.
THE procession here shown represents a funeral conducted by the masonic fraternity, the deceased having been not only a mason, but prominent in military circles, and in municipal affairs, as well as a patron of the various civic societies, The attendance at the burial service by various orders and different classes being large, the above diagram will be of assistance, as showing the proper position for each in the proces-
If a monument in memory of unknown or unreturned soldiers is to be decorated, a firing party of comrades, with three rounds of blank cartridges, is detailed to do escort duty. These march to the cemetery with arms unloaded and reversed. At the cemetery the Post may be divided into detachments, or may keep in phalanx, until all the graves are decorated, and then assembles in some proper portion of the grounds for services, conducted as follows:
First, there is usually performed music by the band or a hymn.
Prayer by the Chaplain. After which, the Commander delivers the following:
"To-day is the festival of our dead. We unite to honor the memory of our brave and our be-loved, to enrich and ennobleour lives by recalling a public heroism and a private worth that are immortal, to encourage by our solemn service a more zeal-o us and stalwart patriotism.
Festival of the dead! Yes, though many eyes are clouded with tears, though many hearts are heavy with regret, though many lives are still desolate because of the father or brother, the husband or lover, who did not come back; though every grave, which a tender rever-ence or love adorns with flowers, is the shrine of a sorrow whose influence is still potent though its first keen poignancy has been dulled - despite of all, to-day is a festival, a festival of our dead; no less a festival because it is full of solemnity.
"And now, as in this silent camping-ground of our dead, with soldierly tenderness and love, we garland these passionless mounds, let us recall those who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes. Let us recall their toils, their sufferings, their heroism, their supreme fidelity in camp, in prison-pen, or on the battle-field, and in hospital, that the flag under which they fought, and from the shadow of whose folds they were promoted, may never be dishonored; that the country for whose union and supremacy they surrendered life may have the fervent and enthusiastic devotion of sion. In this the catafalque, or hearse, is immediately preceded by the bearers, the next before being the clergyman and undertaker, the masons, civic societies, fire-department and military companies. Following is the riderless horse of deceased, mourners, friends, city councilmen and citizens. Numerous bands distributed through the cavalcade enhance the impressiveness of the affair.
every citizen; that, as we stand by every grave as before an altar, we may pledge our manhood that, so help us God, the memory of our dead shall encourage and strengthen in us all a more loyal patriotism."
At the close of this address, the Officer of the Day says: "In your name, my comrades, I scatter (or deposit) these memorial flowers upon this grave (or monument), which represents the graves of all who died in the sacred cause of our country. Our floral tribute shall wither. Let the tender fraternal love for which it stands endure until the touch of death shall chill the warm pulse-beats of our hearts."
The Chaplain then adds:
"Comrades, by this service, without distinction of race or creed, we renew our pledge to exercise a spirit of fraternity among ourselves, of charity to the destitute wards of the Grand Army, and of loyalty to the authority and union of the United States of America, and to our glorious flag, under whose folds every Union soldier's or sailor's grave is the altar of patriotism."