Celebrating 19 Years as Barrington’s Signature Magazine


We Shall Remember Them

The Story of Memorial Day and a D-Day Anniversary

Story by Barbara L. Benson

David Nelson (on right) greets World War II heroes at a Memorial Day ceremony in Evergreen Cemetery. Left: Richard Duchossois (1921–2022) served in the U.S. Army and was decorated with a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Order of St. Maurice Medallion, and the Legion d’Honneur, Frances highest award, presented to him in 2014 on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Center: Life-long Barrington resident Burnell Joseph Wollar (1925–2021) proudly served in the U.S. Army and held many leadership roles in the Village of Barrington.

When the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865, it had claimed more lives than any conflict in American history. National cemeteries were established to bury and honor the fallen. General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance at the end of May in 1868; “The 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” The date of “Decoration Day” as he named it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

By the first Decoration Day, Arlington National Cemetery was already the final resting place of over 20,000 Civil War soldiers. A speech was made by General James Garfield, and over 5,000 people decorated the graves. General Garfield was elected President of the United States in 1881 and was assassinated later that year.

By 1890, Decoration Day had become an official state holiday in all of the northern states, while the southern states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I, then extolled by leaders of nations as “the war to end all wars.”

That war changed commemoration of mortal combat on both sides of the Atlantic. Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day and continued to be observed on May 30 in the United States. In Europe, the Armistice of 1918 between the Allies and Imperial Germany was signed at the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in November. The Sunday closest to November 11th was first observed as Armistice Day. Later, as conflict followed conflict, it became Remembrance Day, recalling the sacrifices of the “glorious dead.” The symbolic red poppies still blow in Flanders Fields.

In the United States, November 11 is celebrated as Veterans Day, in recognition of all those men and women who once served and remain among us, many still bearing the mental and physical scars of war.

The traditions of Memorial Day on May 30 were ever more widespread. Across America and its overseas territories, people from all walks of life joined the parades and ceremonials that marked the day. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for Federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971 when the same law declared Memorial Day a Federal Holiday.

The Village of Barrington is the center of our remembrances as the parade on Monday, May 27 steps off across Main Street at 10:30 a.m. to arrive in Evergreen Cemetery at the Monument on the appointed hour of 11 a.m. This year there will be a special observance of the 80th Anniversary of D-Day.

A verse that speaks for all who mourn through the ages is taken from the poem, “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon, one of World War I’s most eloquent poets:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

. . . . . . . . .

Barbara L. Benson was born in Bromley, Kent and spent her childhood in WWII close to London.

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