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Decoration Day image.

The G.A.R.. was primarily responsible for the observance of Decoration Day, now called Memorial Day.


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The Grand Army of the Republic:
Decoration Day 1869 in Willimantic

WILLIMANTIC. (TERRY Post No. 30.) **

Memorial Day was duly observed by Terry Post No. 30, on Saturday, May 29, 1869. A portion of the command visited Windham Center in the morning, and after decorating the resting-places of seven of our fallen comrades, Hon. A. A. Burnham and Rev. Mr. Williams addressed the assembly with a few remarks. In the afternoon the grand procession was formed in the following order: D. A. O'Neil, chief marshal, on horseback; Aides C. B. Bowen and James E. Murry; Willimantic Cornet Bund; Terry Post No. 30, Grand Army of the Republic; orator and clergy in carriages; floral car, (containing the Goddess of Liberty;) Trinity Chapter No. 6, Royal Arch Masons; Eastern Star Lodge No. 44, Free and Accepted Masons; Lyon Lodge. No. 105, Free and Accepted Masons; Baptist Sunday school; St. John's Temperance Society, Catholic; Congregational Sunday school; Willimantic Lodge No. 27, I. 0. of G. T.; Methodist Sunday school; Children's Progressive Lyceum, Spiritualist; citizens on foot; citizens in carriages.

The line of march was then taken up, and the column of two thousand marched, to the music of a mournful dirge, to the cemetery. The Grand Army marched around and laid their floral offerings on each comrade's grave. In the rear of the cemetery a platform had previously been erected, and after prayer by the Rev. E. T. Clark, Mr. John Tracy introduced Mr. John M. Hall as the orator of the day, who delivered a masterly address.

Our national hymn, "America" was then sung by the multitude, the band accompanying them. Short remarks were made by Rev. Mr. Winslow, Rev. Mr. Saunders, and Rev. Mr. Ayers, superintendent of the Orphans' Home. Rev. Mr. Clark then read the names of the deceased soldiers of Willimantic, following which, "Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow," was sung by the assembly, the band accompanying them. Benediction was pronounced by Rev. Mr. Winslow. The procession re-formed and passed down Main street, where it was dismissed. Of a population of about four thousand, it is believed that not more than one hundred remained at home, and those who did were compelled to do so either by reason of sickness or kindred accidents."

From the book (which is in the Public Domain - no longer copyrighted) :
The National Memorial Day: A Record of Ceremonies Over the Graves of the Union Soldiers

**NOTE: We are not sure why it was referred to as Terry Post No. 30. Perhaps it was called that in the beginning and then later changed to Francis S. Long Post No. 30. We haven't yet found the explanation.