Memorial Day was first named “Decoration Day,” referring to the decoration of the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. Since the 20th century, all American soldiers who have died during service are honored on this day. Often it is extended to remember deceased loved ones who were not in the military. Iconic images of sorrow, reflection, and patriotism are prevalent.
- Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
May 30, 1936: This early photo montage ran in the Sunday Boston Globe with the headline " Spirit of Memorial Day" with caption: As the ranks of the G.A.R (Grand Army of the Republic) thin, the American Legion takes up the task of remembering the dead. At the 68th observance of Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day), hardly 60 active veterans remain to represent the strength of 28,000 men who formed ranks when the G.A.R was young.
Ollie Noonan Jr./Globe Staff
May 30, 1962: A kneeling woman and her child remembered the war dead at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Mattapan. Notice the woman's hairline was altered with an airbrush, something that was often done at that time for better photo reproduction in the paper.
George Rizer/Globe Staff
May 26, 1975: A veteran reflected during Amvets Memorial Day services at Fens Stadium. A parade was held leaving from Copley Square and marched along Huntington, Massachusetts, and Westland avenues to the Fens Stadium where these memorial services were held. Darkening the edges of a scene to enhance the subject was a darkroom printing technique often used in the past.
Ulrike Welsch/ Globe Staff
May 26, 1975: A Cub Scout from Dorchester Pack 2 couldn't hold back his yawn at Cedar Grove Memorial Day Services.
Ted Ancher/Globe Staff
May 28, 1979: A solitary figure crouched over a grave early on Memorial Day at the Mount Wollaston Cemetery on Sea Street in Quincy.
John Blanding/ Globe Staff
May 28 1984: Justin Billard, 5, in his sailor suit, saluted as a color guard passed his spot on Highland Avenue during the Memorial Day parade in Somerville.
Yunghi Kim/Globe Staff
May 29, 1989: Members of the William G. Walsh American Legion Post No. 369 from Dorchester placed a wreath in front of the Benjamin Stone Jr. GAR statue from the Civil War at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester. Stone led a company in the 11th Massachusetts regiment and his service has always been honored at the Memorial Day observances at Cedar Grove.
Michele McDonald/ Globe Staff
May 28, 1994: Debra DiFranco of Brockton, a Civil War re-enactor in period dress, took pictures after a memorial and funeral service in Quincy for an unknown Civil War soldier. The skeletal remains of the soldier were discovered when they fell out of a storage box as the Massachusetts Military Archives were being moved from Natick to Quincy. Events included an ecumenical service at the Church of the Presidents in Quincy Center and burial in the Civil War section of Mount Wollaston Cemetery on Sea Street.