UPDATE: Click here for 2011 Memorial Day event information.
Click here to see pictures and videos from this year’s Memorial Day events at Santa Ana Cemetery and Fairhaven.
You ever wonder how Memorial Day came to be? And what it stands for?
At the end of the Civil War, communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. These observances coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Confederate dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days.
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina.
The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp for captured Union soldiers in 1865, as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days. On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, proceeded to the location for included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
Here in Santa Ana, there are annual Memorial Day events at the Fairhaven Cemetery and the Santa Ana Cemetery. Here are the details:
Santa Ana Cemetery, located at 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave., Santa Ana, CA, 92705. Price: Free. Phone: (714) 425-1325.
The Santa Ana-Tustin-Orange Tri-City Veterans and Service Organizations have announced the Memorial Day observance at Santa Ana Cemetery will continue the tradition this year.
The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Monument to the Unknown Dead of the Civil War. The Monument to the Unknown Dead of the Civil War was erected by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1915, at the Grand Army of the Republic plot near the Santa Clara Avenue entrance to the cemetery.
A special presentation of the POW – MIA flag along with a dedication of “The Vacant Chair” to the POWs – MIAs by the VFW and American Legion will open the ceremony.
The honored guests and speakers this year will include Congressman Ed Royce, County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, Tustin Mayor Pro-Tem John Nielsen, and City of Orange Mayor Carolyn V. Cavecche. VFW Voice of Democracy winner Kelsey Woo, VFW Patriot’s Pen winner Chuli Zeng, and American Legion Oratorical Contest winner Chase Cunningham will read from their award winning pieces. The keynote speakers will be Captain Birdie Ward of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps during the Vietnam conflict who will present “Women, from WASPs to Warriors”; and James Fosdyck of the Sons of the American Revolution will deliver his presentation on “The Tomb of the Unknowns”.
Eagle Scout candidate Daniel Schroeder will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and he will perform “Taps” to close the ceremony. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address will be read by Santa Ana High School NJROTC Cadet Battalion Commander Robert Macias. The National Anthem, God Bless America, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a musical tribute to our Armed Forces will be provided by the chorale singers of Orange High School under the direction of Mr. Michael Short. A selection martial airs will be performed by Civil War era fifer-drummer Stephen Schmitt.
The color guard/honor guard of Orange VFW Post 7452 will provide a rifle salute, and Civil War re-enactors of Battery B -1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery (Cooper’s Battery), and the Richmond Howitzers Battery will fire three cannon salutes. All participating organizations will present their colors and wreaths to be lain at the Monument to the Unknown Dead.
Fairhaven Memorial Park, which was opened by Oliver Halsell and a group of businessmen in 1911 adjacent to Santa Ana Cemetery, also holds special ceremonies to honor veterans.
Assemblyman Jose Solorio told his Facebook friends that he would be at the Fairhaven event.
Fairhaven 18th Annual Memorial Day Celebration
“Proud to be an American”
Monday, May 31, 2010 at 10:30 am
1702 Fairhaven Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92705-6821