Memorial Day was fittingly observed m Norwood’s schools last Monday afternoon. The most elaborate observance was held by the sixth and seventh grades in Village Hall. The hall was handsomely decorated with Howers and flags. The children were this year placed on the stage and the body of the hall left clear for the parents. Had this arrangement been known, the attendance of parents would doubtless have been much larger.
The exercises opened with the selection “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” by the joint schools under the direction of B. Harold Hamblin. Miss Clara Mahoney opened the exercises with a well-rendered recitation. The next number was a trio “Pro Patriot” by Miss Addie Swift, Harold Flood and Mary Curran. This was followed by a recitation by the Shattuck school, “Bringing Home the Cows.” A Memorial day exercise followed with the parts taken as follows : Liberty, Emma Kiley; Revolutionary War, Mabel Mitchell; Civil War, Annie Oldham; Cuban War, n. This was one of the most interesting numbers of the afternoon. Au address to the veterans was given by Miss Beatrice Tisdell.
“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground,” that always brings tears to the eyes of veterans, was another melodious number, six little girls, one girl from each grade sang the verses and the combined schools the chorus, the six singers being Esther Schuster, Mabel Mitchell, Sabina Costello, Gladys Stover, Marion Woods and Blanche Harris.
Ora Fenton, gifted with a remarkable voice, full of expression, recited “The Dandy Fifth.” An original essay reflecting great credit on its author was given by Herbert Tucker on “Patriotic Songs.”
“Just Before the Battle, Mother,” with Winifred Ellis as soloist and the sixth grade of the Guild school singing the chorus, was another of the many musical numbers. The last number contributed by the schools, was a recitation, “The Blue and the Gray” by Miss Helen Coakley and was finely rendered.
Commander Dunbar spoke a few words in praise of the excellent program carried out so well by the young people. Rev. George W. Nead related a few experiences and anecdotes and closed by asking the school to rise and salute “Brother Wright, a veteran with seven wounds.” When this old veteran arose and saluted and the whole school en masse returned the salute, it was a sight that brought tears to the eyes of many and will live in the memory of the honored ones forever. The exercises closed with the singing of America by all present, Miss Averil Chalmers being the accompanist. Veterans visited all the schools in town and all held some program in recognition of Memorial day.
Morning Memorial Exercises.
“And they paid tribute to those who- fought and died that their country might live.”
Memorial day, the day dedicated to the remembrance of the heroes of the Civil War, was observed in the usual manner in Norwood. For once the veterans so often compelled to march in wind and rain, were favored with a pleasant and cool day.
Promptly at eight o’clock, George K. Bird post, G. A. R., headed by the Norwood band and escorted by the Sons of Veterans marched from their headquarters on Cottage Street up Washington Street toward the Old Cemetery, but ere they entered it for their sad rites, the line marched to the house occupied by the wife of Comrade Dearborn, long since passed away, and stood at attention as the soul inspiring strains of Auld Lang Syne were played by the band. The only response from the home of one whom once they loved so well was the dipping three times of a flag but that simple salute brought tears to the eyes of the veterans.
The line then proceeded to the Old Cemetery and there the graves of the soldiers were decked with flowers and the flags were placed that show to all, that there lies one who fought for his country. At the conclusion of the decorating, the line re-formed and inarched to Village hall, where it was augmented by barges containing members of the Woman’s Relief Corps, town officials and prominent citizens.
From here the procession proceeded up Cottage street to Nichols, Nichols to Prospect and from Prospect up Winter to the New Cemetery. Accompanied by a dirge, with measured step and slow, the line entered the burial ground and came to a stop around the plot of ground containing the soldiers’ monument and the large urn.
For the first time, the Grand Army did not decorate the graves of its fallen comrades, but entrusted the honor to the attendant Sons of Veterans. It affected a number of the old veterans to see others decorating the graves so often decorated by them and all were thankful to have a body of men like the Sons of Veterans to whom to give up the sad duty, for the old veterans are getting too feeble and their ranks too thin to attend to the decorating personally. With a “Son of Veteran” at every grave, at the sound of the trumpet all bared their heads while the flowers were placed and at the second call, back came the “Sons of Veterans,” and joined in exercises consisting of prayer by Chaplain G. W. Nead, reading of orders by Adjt. G. F. Stetson and singing by a chorus of young ladies.
After the singing of America by all present, the line was again formed and to the strains of martial music returned by the way of Winter, Walpole and Washington streets to G. A. R. hall where Commander Dunbar, after inviting the escort into the hall, dismissed the parade at eleven o’clock.
In addition to the Sons of Veterans, twelve boys, Gordon Taylor, Ralph Demuth, John Shannon, Curtis Probert, John Donahue, James Mulvey, Milton McLeod, Herbert Larrabee, Gladwin Nead, George Nead, Franklin Fleck and Henry Ellis, in blue coats and caps, acted as a color guard throughout the entire line of march and made a nice showing.
At noon, all the members of the Post, the Sons of Veterans, Post Associates and town officials assembled in Village hall, where a bountiful repast was served by the ladies of the Woman’s Relief Corps. At the close of the lunch, Commander Dunbar rose, and in a few well chosen words thanked the Sons of Veterans and Woman’s Relief Corps for what they had done. Mrs. Knowles rose at the close of his speech and spoke of the great deeds the boys of ’61 had done and how it was the duty and pleasure of all to serve the surviving heroes in all possible ways. Mrs. Buckman, president of the W. R. C., next spoke and Commander Holman of the S. of V., spoke very feelingly of the honor bestowed upon his command in allowing them to decorate the graves. Richard Oldham and Lewis Dunbar also spoke inspiringly of the influence of Memorial day and of the great obligations we are all under to the Grand Army for preserving for us, this great and glorious country.
Evening Memorial Exercises.
At no time during Memorial Day was more honor done the “Boys of ’61” than at the exercises held in the evening in Village hall. Every seat in the hall was filled and many stood in the rear, but what was even more impressing was the exhibition of reverence for the old soldiers which permeated the audience including not only men and women, but children as well. This feeling was probably inspired partly by the presence of the veterans themselves and partly by the entertainers of the occasion, which were of the best. The Kate Belle Walton Concert Company with Mrs. Kate Belle Walton, reader, Mrs. Alice Worcester Weeks, soprano, Miss M. Millie Beardsley, contralto, and Miss Elinor Weeks, accompanist, furnished the entertainment. The address was given by Judge Thomas E. Grover of Canton, who delivered the address a year ago.
The exercises opened with a prayer by Rev. Fr. Thomas J Golding followed by the reading of General Orders by Adjt. George F. Stetson.
Commander E H. Dunbar then read Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg in a very effective manner and made a few other remarks apropos to the occasion. He then introduced Mrs. Walton, who read a “Decoration Day Ode” and when the applause had died away at the end, she recited a parody on “The Old Oaken Bucket” entitled “The Old Coffee Kettle.” The next number was a vocal duet by Mrs. Weeks and Miss Beardsley, “The Flag they loved so well.” The encore which followed was “Every Man a Volunteer.” In this piece the armies of other nations were contrasted with that of our own country. Mrs. Walton then read a selection entitled “The meaning of U. S. A.” followed by an encore “Me and Jim.” Mrs. Weeks then sung “O Stern Old Land” in a most inspiring manner, followed by an encore “When the Boys come home.” Mrs. Weeks has a beautiful soprano voice of fine tone, and great range and volume. Commander Dunbar then introduced in a few fitting words, Judge Thomas E. Grover of Canton.
Judge Grover rose and was heartily applauded. He opened his address by saying that he had decided to talk on the events leading up to the Civil War and the feelings and sentiments of the people at that great event in the world’s history,
“Never was there such a terrible war recorded in our history. Never were there so many fighting men in the field as in this great strife for the preservation of our union. Never was so much excitement exhibited by the people. This great war was, and is today, looked upon by the world as a great epoch in its history, but, however much the people think of the war itself, they seldom think of the origin. Judge Grover then went back to the closing of the Revolution and told of the state the country was in at that time. All the states claimed the right to levy taxes and wage war at their own will; they claimed the ownership to lands in remote parts of the country which were a source of much dispute; postage rates were exorbitant, public libraries and public schools were almost unknown, there were thirty-seven newspapers in the entire country; electric appliances, automobiles, matches and artificial means of power were not dreamt of. Such were the conditions under which our forefathers had to work when they formed the Constitution of the United States. Yet, with all the changes this country has undergone since, this noble instrument has stood firm. It has been condemned many times by politicians and has survived a civil war.
It was not a great while before trouble between the two sections of the country began. Things kept growing worse. But the people, although deeply interested, thought it would be little more than a war of politicians. Little they dreamed that this war would, in a short space of four years, take the entire gleaming of two hundred years, and leave the country in a state of weakness that it would take years to recover from; that this war would be characterized by heroic deeds, the like of which were never seen before; that this war would be the cruelest attack on humanity the world has ever known.
At the time the war broke out the regular army consisted of 8,000 men and these were scattered over the entire country. The navy was almost invisible. But this was not all. The Constitution did not give the government the power to enlist an army. What was to be done? No sooner did Lincoln call for volunteers than they flocked to the aid of their country. Massachusetts with less than one-fourth of the population of the southern states, put more men in the field than the entire Confederate army. The excitement was something incomprehensible, the least little incident would put people in a frenzy. There was a lecture given in Music Hall during the early part of the war and just before the lecture began, Anna Louise Kid, then in the height of beauty, came out on the stage, and waving the stars and stripes, sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” There were four or five thousand people in the hall, but as she sang along, this great multitude was absolutely silent. They were enchanted by this beautiful voice and this beloved national air. They were completely insensible to everything but the song. But as the singer reached the words, “and the rockets wild glare, the bombs bursting in air,” this great assemblage rose all at one instant and with a cheer that broke from every mouth at the same time, jumped upon the seats, threw hats and coats into the air. They were frenzied and crazed with patriotism. The cheer was not of the kind that starts in one corner of the hall and spreads spontaneously through the audience but broke out at one and the same instant Such was the state to which the senses of the people were wrought at this crisis.
When war was inevitable it was prophesied that the end of the union was near and the constitution would at last be destroyed. Everybody was afraid the country was going to the dogs. The financial condition was bad. And beside, this rebellion was not like most rebellions, an organized body against an unorganized one. Both the North and the South were organized. Yet with all these great obstacles in the way, the country pulled through these four awful years of war and again organized into a strong and substantial government. Since the war, the United States has progressed as no other country in the world’s history.”
Judge Grover ended by saying that although we call these soldiers, who have passed from this world, dead, they are not dead. They will always live in the memory of the people whose country they saved. As an orator, Judge Grover is of the kind that one could listen to for hours and never lose interest in what he is saying. It is hoped that the people of Norwood will have many opportunities in the future to hear him speak.
The remainder of the program consisted of a contralto solo by Miss Beardsley, “He was only a private that’s all”; reading by Mrs. Walton, “America”; vocal duet by Mrs. Weeks and Miss Beardsley “Tenting on the old camp ground and readings by Mrs. Walton, “Who will tell the story,” and “Old Glory.” The audience then rose and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was sung by Mrs. Weeks, while all joined in the chorus. The Kate Belle Walton Concert company scored a unanimous success and it is expected that in the near future a concert will be given by them in this town under the auspices of the G. A. R.
Memorial Sunday Exercises.
By invitation, George K. Bird post, G. A. R., the Woman’s Relief Corps and Sons of Veterans, attended divine service at the Baptist church. A good congregation was present. The anthem “God of our Fathers” was sung by the choir. The pastor, , preached an excellent sermon on “The final testimony of life work,” taking for his text, 1 cor. 3:13. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man’s work what sort it is.”
“Nations as well as individuals cannot expect to prosper if they defy the claims of the Almighty, disregard His laws, and trample on the rights of men. Alexander and Napoleon were cited as examples of vaulting ambition and selfishness ending in ignominy and ruin. A century ago France denied the existence of God and the highest of her nobility died on the scaffold and the streets of Paris ran with blood If our people would ensure the continued existence and prosperity of our nation, we must not be indifferent to the claims of religion and morality. The greed and unscrupulous ambition of public men are a fearful menace to us as a people. If we would avert the dangers that threaten us, we must put the right above party, and battle for reform.”
He spoke of President Roosevelt, Gov. Folk of Missouri, Mayor Weaver of Philadelphia and Gov. Douglas of Massachusetts, as conspicuous examples of honesty among public men. He quoted from the first inaugural of President Lincoln and paid an eloquent tribute to the men who upheld the flag and saved the Union in the civil war. The exercises closed with the singing of America by the choir and congregation.
(All articles were originally published in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)