“We Remember” May 30th
When we were growing up today – May 30th was Memorial Day. No matter on what day of the week May 30th fell, it was Memorial Day or as some called it “Decoration Day”*. Frank still puts his flag out and celebrates this date every year as the real Memorial Day.
As kids growing up, Memorial Day was a very patriotic holiday. In Norristown as in many small towns, there was a big quasi-military parade on Memorial Day morning in which local dignitaries and veterans’ groups accompanied by bands and fire trucks marched to the local cemetery to place flags and wreaths on veterans’ graves.
Frank remembers that these parades were always led by a group of open cars carrying (believe it or not) the last, local, surviving Civil War veterans. They were followed by a large, uniformed, marching contingent of Spanish American War vets and uniformed former WWI doughboys who marched under the banners of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Towards the end of the parade there was always a contingent of open cars that carried the local “Gold Star Mothers” – women who had lost sons and daughters during the various wars. During World War II, each year the number of cars carrying “Gold Star Mother” increased from a few cars to by 1945 and 1946 a major portion of the parade. After World War II, the number of marchers swelled each year as returning veterans joined the parade.
During the 1950s, the demographics of Norristown began to change dramatically as whites fled to the suburbs and the city deteriorated. With these changes, the patriotism of the citizenry changed and the grand Memorial Day parades became a procession of a handful of old men slowly walking the last couple of hundred yards to the cemetery on May 30th to honor their fallen comrades.
The great Memorial Day parades are now a thing of the past. However, now that the Civil War, Spanish American War and World One Veterans are all now gone along with most of the WW II vets, we don’t forget. Now We Stop on every May 30th and “We Remember” them along with all of our more recent vets. Please join us.
Pat & Frank Fleming
May 30, 2015
*NOTE – Ever since the Civil War people went to their local cemeteries and decorated veterans’ graves with small American Flags on May 30th of each year. This caused many people to also refer to Memorial Day as “Decoration Day” .