Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Confederate Memorial Day in the 1940s

Confederate Memorial Day will be this Thursday, April the 26th.

The pictures are of the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta. I am told it is the largest Confederate Cemetery in the South, and I’m willing to bet, anywhere outside the south also. It has 3000 residences. One of the residences is black. That will be for a future blog.

Back when I was in grammar school at Waterman Street School in the late 1940s each year on Confederate Memorial Day our teachers would herd us and all our other fellow students of the school out of the building and into the street where we would walk single file, or maybe two abreast, on the sidewalk the three or four blocks to the Square in downtown Marietta. There, we became part of a sea of other white grammar school students from all over Marietta.

White grammar school students? Yes, this was a "white only" activity. That was during the days of segregation. The Supreme Court ruled that Segregation was fine providing it was “separate but equal”. So, the black school children had a march to the National Cemetery, which had Yankees buried in it on Memorial Day, or also known here in Marietta then as “Yankee Memorial Day”.

We were each given a small Rebel flag with a small little staff. After we marched to the Confederate Cemetery we were to find a grave not yet stuck and stick the flag in it, near the headstone. Then we would have to stand in the hot sun and listen to politicians, Daughters of the Confederacy, and whoever else give speech after speech. Well, even though we didn’t give things like that much thought at that age, we were a captivated crowd, just what speakers need.

Or, the more I think about it, we probably listened to the speakers first then scattered to stick the flags and scattered on out of there.

In the first grade my mother was worried that I would get lost in the crowd and somebody snatch me up. She gave my sister, who was probably in the 5th grade, strict orders to keep an eye on me and hold my hand after the meeting broke up and we were to go home.

My sister recalls that after it broke up she looked for me and couldn’t find me. She frantically looked and looked and I was no place. She had to walk home alone and dreaded having to tell my mother that she had missed me, now I was lost.

When she got home I was playing in the yard.

I knew the downtown streets more than they realized.

Yes, I know these pictures are pictures I taken in a Fall season and I am talking about a Spring event, but its the best I can come up with.



Blogger kenju said...

Did your sister get in trouble for losing sight of you?

5:24 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I don't think so. My parents knew I was pretty slippery.

6:01 AM  
Blogger cbish68 said...


Again, I'm going to hijack your topic and take it on a tangent, but I can't help myself.

In spite of all the negative press about it, it's amazing to me just how far we've come in terms of Civil Rights in just a generation or two. My wife and I make a concerted effort to teach our kids to be colorblind in regards to race as well as ethnic background. There is no need to hate people based on their race. After all, they're people. You'll find plenty of other good reasons to dislike them once you get to know them. ;)

6:35 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I like that! "You'll find plenty other good reasons to dislike them once you get to know them."

6:44 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

This is still celebrated? If so, it pretty much sums up my utter disgust with southern America. Not all southerners, of course, but I cannot understand how on earth this is considered OK. First of all, technically, every Confederate was a traitor to the Union. So it is a holiday for traitors. It's like if British Loyalists got a little holiday every year. Except that I could actually stomach that. Second, more importantly, even though we have made some progress in ethnic equality, the fact that anyone still regards the Confederacy as the good old days - even something to be proud of - si terrifying.

1:16 PM  
Blogger ET said...

Confederate Memorial Day, I don't think, is officially celebrated, but I think there are a few "Forget Hell!" that still try to keep it alive.
A few years ago, on a Sunday we were in downtown Marietta at a yearly party called "A Taste of Marietta" on that date and a guy in a confederate uniform was handing our brochures and literature and reminding people they should go visit the Confederate Cemetery.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are these soldiers all from the Atlanta campaign in 1864? Im sure there are a lot of guys from the 4th Mississippi buried in there. None of my ancestors were killed in that campaign.....

2:01 AM  
Blogger ET said...

No, they started buying soldiers there in 1863 - two sisters owned the property and allowed burying of CSA soldiers on it, and then another, and another, and before long it was a full blown cemetery.
I know of one person who fought in Virginia and died in the 1930s who is buried there.

2:18 AM  

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