Lest we forget…. That has been the motto since the close of the American Civil War in 1865. Today’s Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in the month of May, evolved from the desire of Civil War veterans to remember the cost of war and share their memory of fallen comrades.
People have always decorated gravesites with flowers and wreaths, and in the years following the Civil War it was very common to add American flags so that the event was first called Decoration Day. Since the end of May is when flowers naturally become available and better weather prevails, the first calls for an official annual Decoration Day specified May 30th.
In 1971 Memorial Day, specified as the last Monday in May, became an official federal holiday.
Every year the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in north Seattle holds a Memorial Day program with flags placed upon the graves of veterans of war, from the Civil War up through recent armed conflicts. This Memorial Day at Evergreen-Washelli, May 29, 2023, veterans, Scouts groups and volunteers will place the flags at 10 AM. At 11 AM there will be a brief memorial service with the Washington State Guard.
The Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery is located on Aurora Avenue North at North 110th Street. Parking lots are on the west side of Aurora, and the military gravesites section is on the east side.
Seattle historian Feliks Banel has written commentary on what is called the Doughboy Statue which now stands at the site of the military graves at Evergreen-Washelli. The controversies over the style and placement of the statue reflects the difficulties of processing the meaning of war and the impact of war upon American history.