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Savannah Rambles 

Architecture walking tours of a unique American city

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Memorial Day

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 9:51 AM
    Memorial Day was originally observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were laid on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It's meaning was expanded after World War I to include the sacrifices of American soldiers throughout it's history.  Therefore, I was somewhat disturbed when a couple of ladies from New York on one of my walking tours made the statement: "What do people in Savannah do this weekend since you don't observe Memorial Day"?  My answer: "We observe Memorial Day like all Americans should"  As a native Ohioan living in Georgia, I find regional animosities tiresome at best and mostly based on the ignorance most often expressed by those too culturally shallow to travel well.
   Savannah's monuments to fallen soldiers are many and offer a glimpse into the very soul of the place for those willing to open their eyes.   It usually comes as a surprise that the only Confederate monuments in the downtown National landmark Historic District sit within a wrought iron fence in the Forsyth Park Parade Grounds to the far edge of the Landmark District. The downtown is actually dominated by monuments dedicated to such heroes as Nathanael Greene, Casimir Pulaski, and Sergent Jasper.  It was the spirit of the American Revolution which was enthroned here. This must have been a bit confusing to occupying Union Soldiers realizing both sides had the same heroes.
    Today, monuments to  contemporary conflicts such as World War I and Vietnam can also be visited along with the most recent entry on River Street to those who fought during World War II.  If anything written here is new information, maybe it's time you took a few moments to read the inscriptions provided at these sites - wherever they may be.  A little quiet remembrance of those who have ensured our freedoms might be good for what's ailing us as a country right now.  Just a thought.

Categories: Savannah Culture

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458 Comments

Reply Laura Henning
2:25 PM on May 29, 2011 
Dirk, up until about 10 years ago or so, Georgia did not list Memorial Day as a legal state holiday. Local governments could (Chatham and Savannah goverment have since I was in school in 1987, but the state did not require employers to classify the day as a holiday. There were many Memorial Days I worked a standard business day, with no holiday pay - and I worked for a muesum. The first two years I worked at my firm in 1998 and 1999, Memorial Day was a manditory work day. If you wanted off you took a vacation day. Also not to defend your out of date New York crew, Memorial Day in the part of the north I grew up is celebrated more like how Savannah observes November 11th. Every band in all 8 schools is marching tommorrow, and the old flags are hung over Main Street from the Spanish War monument at the north end to the Civil War monument at the south.

Enjoying the blog by the way.
Reply Andy
6:49 AM on September 17, 2013 
Great thoughts on such a historic day. Your tours look really interesting Dirk, I'd be glad to check them out if I ever make it to Savannah. Congrats on your success, it looks like you are doing really well with your tours!
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