In terms of civic expressions of patriotism, few ceremonies are more quintessential than the Memorial Day Parade. Although the holiday honors those who fell in the service of the nation, veterans have always had a pivotal role in public expressions and observances. Veterans of the Civil War continued to participate in Memorial Day Parades well into the twentieth century, but as the years waned on, their role in these exercises began to change. By the 1930s, Civil War veterans were largely viewed by the public as curiosities or living memorials, their experience a lesson that Americans could draw upon for modern issues.Read More
“There’s Still Life in the Old Boys Yet!,” a newspaper article emphatically exclaimed. An accompanying photograph portrayed Union veteran Tim Flaherty, well into his nineties, dancing a jig for his comrades. The year was 1938, the July heat sweltering, and the final grand reunion of the blue and gray well underway. Seventy-five years after the battle of Gettysburg, 1,845 veterans were able to reach the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania to once more commemorate the defining four years of their generation.
However, this reunion was different than the others.Read More