Memorial Day and our Veterans

Memorial Day is celebrated this weekend. Although decorating soldiers graves is an ancient custom,  the custom became a national mourning ritual, Decoration Day, in the U.S. during the Civil War. It was a ritualized, recognized day to decorate the war dead because of the unprecedented numbers of dead at the time, most of whom died far from home and their families who could not visit their graves, who could not identify or ship remains home, and many families never knew for sure where their loved ones were buried. Memorial Day is documented in some of the collection sin the Clarke.

What the day is all about- rows of honored, decorated U.S. soldiers graves in France, World War I.
The image and others are in Nurse Mary Bourgeoise's gorgeous WWI A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Forces] photograph album. Here is a closeup of her clever photographic cover.
You can see the soldiers and nurses in the letters FR in France.
Mary and her nursing unit in France, WWI

Also in the Clarke there are a lot of primary source collection documenting veterans of wars, mostly the Civil War and World War I, although there is some material from World War II and Vietnam, and one collection mentioning the Korean War. These collections also document veterans organizations and the women's organizations that supported the veterans. There are posters, official government records of war,  postcards, scrapbooks, photograph albums, photographs, letters, pins, radio addresses, printed speeches, as well as secondary sources, published books, music, newspaper articles, and films.

I would like to start documenting more of the Michiganders who have served our nation since World War II. If you are or have the materials of Michigan veterans or Michigan organizations that supported our troo0ps since World War II, please consider donating to the Clarke. There are Michiganders making history right now serving our nation today.

patriotic 1907 postcard in our Display Items

an assortment of GAR pins Civil War Veterans wore to parades, meetings and gatherings honoring fallen veteran comrades, also in our Display Items
Harrison H. Saylor's WWI dog tags in his collection

To learn more about any of these collections, go to the Clarke Historical Library webpage at 


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