Blog summary of Memorial Day: from the disparate histories of commemorating war dead, to canine monuments and motorcycle clubs.

For the thousands of Paperhouses readers outside of the US, it might be worth noting today is Memorial Day, whereby Americans observe the memories of those fallen in war. A typical commemoration in this day and age, though, may simply consist of friends gathering around a grill, or families lining Main Street to witness a pageant of servicemen and women. These aren’t remarkable architectural milestones, but for the possibility that a supreme dedication comes in the form of a monument, building or statue. Here are just a few items around the internet on this Memorial Day and the monuments we’ve built.

First, the untold history of this holiday. Yale professor of history and Director of the Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, David W. Blight, featured at The New York Times:

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

Meanwhile, a Confederate Memorial Day is still actively observed in the state of Georgia.

One of the first monuments to the memory of fallen soldiers (which some claim is the first Memorial Day observance, period) is notably based around a statue of grieving widows, in Boalsburg PA.

Photo by: Ian Turton (flickr)


There is also a commemoration for the fallen (wait for it…) canines of American wars.


Photo via: Upworthy

If you live in the DC-Metro area you are sure to have heard a chorus of motorcycle engines roaring over the Potomac. These motorcyclists—many of whom are in fact veterans—hail from a variety of clubs, who ride to honor their brothers. My favorite is the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, which honors the famous all-black 9th and 10th Union Cavalry.


The Buffalo Soldier Motorcycle Club at the Fiesta Bowl Parade.