A few years ago, before I got Jackie, I visited my granddaughter in Starkville, Mississippi, and she, knowing that I enjoy all things of a historical nature, drove me the few miles to Columbus where we toured some of the wonderful antebellum mansions to be found in this fine old town.
In driving about we noticed a marker commemorating the four Columbus women who are credited with the start of Memorial Day. It seems that shortly after the Civil War, which in the South is known as The War for Southern Independence, these ladies placed flowers on the graves of all the soldiers, both The Blue and The Grey, who had lost their lives in a battle which took place nearby. The solemn gesture thus performed has evolved into our nation's Memorial Day.
Every April 25 in Columbus, there is a reenactment of the original placing of flowers at the Friendship Cemetery located there. Ladies in period dress lay floral offerings on the graves of the fallen soldiers to pay tribute to the dead and to honor the four women who live in memory as having started Memorial Day.
This experience took me back to my childhood days. My paternal grandmother, Mama Cash, having a plethora of slave labor in the form of her many grandchildren, always got several of us up in the early morning hours, say about 4:30 a.m., and had us out cutting anything that dared bloom to carry over to the cemetery and decorate the graves of our deceased loved ones, folks we didn't know from Adam's Off Ox.
Her husband had died at an early age from a wound sustained in the Spanish-American War, and she wasn't about to let his grave go unattended on Decoration Day, as it was known in those days. His was the first government issued grave marker I was ever aware of, and the small flag we placed each year helped me to realize the sacrifice made by so many men who gave their lives for us all. Mama Cash was determined all her grandchildren would be told about such things. Not a bad idea, is it?
My poet sister, Linda Cash Crase, remembers the outing with much greater fondness than I do. Here is what she has to say.
I Remember the Yellow Roses
|We called it Decoration Day||and through early morning dew|
|We'd walk to Gramma's garden fence||where the yellow roses grew.|
|She said he loved the roses and||each spring she longed to share|
|With her love the yellow roses||that bloomed so sweet and fair.|
|He planted yellow roses||'ere he took her as his wife.|
|He built a humble cottage,||and she lived there all her life.|
|Death took him still a young man,||but he left her seven sons.|
|How hard her life and lonely.||Battles lost and battles won.|
|Grampa's stone was very old,||'twas weather worn and gray.|
|But she was sure my grampa knew||we came that special day.|
|A small stone with a lamb was near||and here she always cried.|
|Her baby wasn't two years old||on the Christmas that he died.|
|She raised six of seven sons||and her life was hard indeed.|
|"God helps those that help themselves,"||was Gramma's constant creed.|
|Almost eighty years she lived||in the house that Grampa made,|
|And in our memories her bouquets||will never fade.|
|She's been gone for ages now||but I'm quite sure they know|
|That we bring yellow roses||just because they loved them so.|