Memorial Day will be observed next Monday. Perhaps you know it as Decoration Day — a name derived from the custom of decorating the graves of civil war veterans with flowers.
During my childhood it was a day marked with flags, uniforms, cedar boughs with paper poppies, and speeches. It contained music from the high school band, salutes of three volleys of rifle fire and “Taps” from a lone bugle. Food, conversation, and laughter often followed the end of the final speech.
Shake the tree of any family residing in the United States by 1860 and you’re likely to find at least one Civil War veteran. In many families if you shake hard enough you’ll find some from each side. My own is no exception but little is known of the branch of the family that perished in Louisiana during that war.
The small cemetery in my home town contains a few graves with the weathered star marker engraved 1861-1865. The one below marks the resting place of my great-grandfather’s older brother.