Perhaps you remember from history, General John Alexander Logan ordered a holiday on May 30, 1868, so people would decorate the graves of the American Civil War dead. The holiday, originally called “Decoration Day,” was (and is) observed by placing flowers and flags for our loved ones. Today we look forward to a parade on what is now called Memorial Day and flags are placed on the various honor rolls in town including the Spanish American War Boulder in Harbor Park, the Civil War Statue (unveiled in Monument Square on Memorial Day of 1899) now in Harbor Park, the Conway Boulder at the Elm Street School and most recently the beautiful granite honor roll on the Village Green with more than 1,200 names on it of men and women who left Camden to serve our country during World War I, World War II, Korea, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

Most of the United States recognizes the same date, but there is also a Confederate Memorial Day in some southern states. For instance, Alabama observes it on the fourth Monday in April. Mississippi holds its observance on the last Monday in April. Georgia and Florida like April 26.

Because the holiday was to decorate the graves of the Civil War veterans, I thought about listing those buried in Mountain View Cemetery according to records in the Camden Town Office. Once I got halfway through, the names were filling the whole article. There were a total of 152 veterans of the Civil War. The Walsh History Center at the Camden Public Library now has a list. I found them by going through every box of burial cards in the town office.

In Camden I was once shocked when I overheard “the Memorial Day Parade was not much fun.” Apparently that person did not have their brain in the right gear to realize what it was all about. Everyone loves a parade, with things like clowns, but Memorial Day is somber, as we honor those who gave their lives that we might be free.

Many years ago, when I was a child, the parade in Camden was much larger. There were even a few Civil War veterans (who rode in cars). Many World War I veterans marched in cadence, wearing their navy blue uniforms, decorated with medals. Preceding them were the color guards with flags and rifles.

Sons of the Legionnaires made up quite a marching contingency. The only part of a uniform was a light blue “overseas” type hat. At that time there were two Girl Scout troops, Boy Scouts and Brownies. Children loved to decorate their bicycles with red white and blue streamers and join the parade.

The Camden High School Band had snappy crimson and gray uniforms, with hats and shoulders trimmed with gold braids and brass buttons.

Today only a few of the World War II veterans are able to march, but some do ride in antique cars. There are still wars and we do have the honor guards. In addition to the Revolutionary War, Spanish American War and Civil War, we pay tribute to five men killed in World War I and to those lost in World War II and in the wars since still going on.

In addition to Memorial Day, we have had a number of events in the past. For instance on Aug. 30, 1906, a large parade was held when they moved the Conway Boulder from Ogier Hill (upper Chestnut Street) to honor Civil War veteran William Conway, who refused to take down the American flag so they could raise a Confederate one, at Pensacola Navy Yard on Jan. 10, 1861. It made the quartermaster a hero.

One of the largest events was held on Aug. 19, 1919 , a “Welcome the Boys Home” parade for the World War I veterans. It was so large they did not hold it on Memorial Day. Main and Elm streets were decked out with patriotic bunting, and a very large number of floats were decorated for the occasion. Quite a number of Robert Bean Yard employees marched with a mock vessel, and cars were decorated in red, white and blue.

Have you thanked a veteran today?

Look for the next article in two parts, maybe some fiction, but historically correct.