Members of the Kirby-Smith Chapter 327 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy took part in local Memorial Day celebrations. On the Friday before Memorial Day, Chapter President Ginger Delius presented a program at the Life Care Center of Tullahoma, giving the history of Memorial Day. At the end of her presentation, she recognized two resident veterans of the Vietnam War era and presented them with small U.S. flags.
“Let us remember the brave men and women who gave their lives defending our great country,” said Delius. “Let us never forget that they suffered all, sacrificed all, and died.”
On Memorial Day, four chapter members participated in the Memorial Day service that was held at the Franklin Memorial Gardens in Winchester. In his speech, Sergeant Major Larry Williams, US Army retired, made reference that Memorial Day was started in the South by southern women. Following the service, members served light refreshments to the large crowd.
According to Delius, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day – both Macon and Columbus, Georgia, as well as Richmond, Virginia. However, one of the first was Columbus, Mississippi. On April 25, 1866, a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had died in the Battle of Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they had been the “enemy.” Disturbed at the barren sight, the women placed some of their flowers on the graves.
“After all,” said Delius, “they too, had loved ones back home grieving.” Each following year, in the springtime, the women continued to decorate the graves. This day of remembrance, which they called Decoration Day, spread throughout the South and North. The name Memorial Day was first used in 1882.
In 1971, Congress passed the “Monday Holiday Act,” therefore, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May.
Pictured at the Franklin Memorial Gardens service are (l to r): Sheila Williams, Ginger Delius, and Syble Throneberry. Not pictured: Vicki Watkins.