May 26, 2023
My mom and dad always referred to Memorial Day as Decoration Day. What started as a tradition to decorate veteran’s graves has expanded to include all those who are immortalized in our memory.
The practice became widespread after the Civil War. In 1868, General John A. Logan proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day and in the following years, it evolved into Memorial Day, which is how it is known today.
In our community, the cemetery has been the site of a program at the flagpole monument for more than the 30 years that I have been involved. It gives the community an opportunity to come together, not in grief, but to honor our ancestors who established this community and whose legacy goes back 130 years with its founding in 1893. A celebration of that beginning is planned for later in the year.
Memorial Day has become a national holiday, thanks to federal recognition in 1971, to be observed on the last Monday in May, with the date chosen to give celebrants a three-day weekend.
Our family observance always took place in Cleo Springs, which is the town closest to the Webster Homestead on the Cimarron River near the southern end of Woods County. Our roots go back to 1904 when Marion Francis and Sarah Melinda Webster and family arrived from Eureka, Kansas.
Traditions change, and one day cemeteries will be obsolete, replaced by technology or not at all. But until then, honor the dead by helping the living.