Today is Memorial Day. Do you know how it started? What memories come to your mind? I can remember being a young band student poorly playing patriotic songs on my cornet in a small cemetery of heroes near Lockington, Ohio. Ancient looking veterans of past wars decorated graves of heroes with small red, white and blue flags. Surprisingly, Memorial Day’s official beginning was not until 26 May 1966, when signed into proclamation by President Lyndon B Johnson. His proclamation gave sole credit to the town of Waterloo New York’s tradition “when businesses shuttered and residents draped black crepe and adorned soldiers graves with flowers and flags”. While many other towns dispute its origins, it really began like this....One day in 1864 a young widow received a letter.
It read as follows: “ I, John Roney, 1st Lieutenant, Commanding Officer of Company “M”, 11th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry do hereby certify, that I was well acquainted with Simeon Shidler, who was a private in Company E of our Regiment, during the period of his service in said Regiment; that this said Simeon Shidler was wounded at the battle of Mission Ridge near Chattanooga Tennessee on the 25th day of November A.D. 1863, and that he died of his wounds at Chattanooga Tennessee on the 12th day of December 1863, and that he received the wounds which caused his death while in the service of the United States and in the line of duty. Given under my hand this 4th day of May A.D. 1864”.
That widow with five young orphaned children was Hannah Shidler, one of my Great Grandmothers. I have no flagpole in my yard yet to commemorate this day (the Editor did not approve my flagpole design) but I do have these Red, White and Blue birds are for you Grandpa Simeon. Thank you for your service and ultimate sacrifice that led to me. Blessings. Harry