{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/law.php' }

Decoration Day to Memorial Day – Pics of the Week

Mount Olivet Cemetery / Photograph by Robert Brammer

Mount Olivet Cemetery / Photograph by Robert Brammer

As an adult, I still enjoy reading children’s books.  Indeed, now that I am an adult, I probably read more children’s books than I did as a kid–when I was trying to persuade the authorities to let me read adult biographies of the Tudor monarchs.  One of the reasons I enjoy reading children’s books so much is that I pick up a lot of odds and ends of information.  One example is Emily of Deep Valley, by one of my favorite authors, Maud Hart Lovelace. The story takes place between 1912-13, beginning and ending around Decoration Day.  The day before the holiday, Emily and her fellow citizens decorated the graves at the local cemetery–while the day itself is marked by a parade with the veterans from the Civil and Spanish-American wars.  But what, I wondered, was Decoration Day?

The specific origins of Decoration Day seem to be in dispute; however, 1868 marked the first national observance with ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.  During the succeeding years, various states designated May 30th as a legal holiday.  In 1894, Congress designated the thirtieth day of May as a legal public holiday (28 Stat. 96).  And in 1950, it passed a law calling upon the President to issue a yearly proclamation ”each May 30th, Memorial Day, by praying, each in accordance with his religious faith, for permanent peace.” (64 Stat. 158).  In 1968 Congress passed Public Law 90-363, which established “the uniform annual observance of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.”  Under this law, Memorial Day observed was designated as the last Monday in May.  The current law can be found in Title 36 of the United States Code, section 116.  However, a colleague who lived in the southern United States pointed out that Memorial Day was originally a holiday to honor the Union dead.  Since states designate the days which they will recognize as legal public holidays, and these may vary, I decided to check the Alabama Code as an example.  Alabama recognizes national Memorial Day, but it also designates the fourth Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day (Ala. Code §1-3-8).

This helps me to understand the importance of Decoration Day in Emily of Deep Valley as Emily lives with her grandfather who is a veteran of the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment which fought at Gettysburg.

I turned to my colleague Robert–an inveterate shutterbug–for some photographs to illustrate this post.  He kindly provided me with a number of photographs from Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Civil War gravestone at Mount Olivet Cemetery / Photograph by Robert Brammer

Civil War gravestone at Mount Olivet Cemetery / Photograph by Robert Brammer

 

What Happens When There Is an Inconsistency Between the Statutes at Large and the U.S. Code?

The following is a guest post by Shameema Rahman, senior legal research specialist in our Public Services Division This has been an interesting month. I have answered a number of unique inquiries from our researchers and one of them was kind enough to allow me to share her question with you. She asked if I could give […]

Fingerprint Evidence Leads to Murder Conviction and Execution (in 1920 New Zealand)

These days when we think about forensic evidence our minds turn to shows such as the “CSI” franchise.  We think of DNA.  Bullet striations.  Hair and fiber analysis.  And fingerprints.  Of all these things, fingerprint matching has perhaps the longest history and remains one of the most used tools for identifying criminals.  I was therefore […]

Laws and Regulations Passed in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake

The following is a guest post by Sayuri Umeda, a senior foreign law specialist covering Japan and several Southeast Asian countries at the Law Library of Congress. Last year I completed a major research report titled “Japan: Legal Responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011,” which is now available on the Law Library’s […]

An Interview with Daria Pistriak, Legislative Fellow

Today’s interview is with Daria Pistriak, a staffer at Ukraine‘s Office of the Ombudsman, currently interning at the Law Library of Congress as part of her participation in the Legislative Fellows Program, a U.S. Department of State-funded program designed to expose promising young professionals from selected European countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine) to […]

Laws of Tanzania – Global Legal Collection Highlights

On April 26, 2014, Tanzania celebrated 50 years of the Tanganyika and Zanzibar union.  A former German (1880s-1918) and British (1919-1961) colony, Tanganyika (now commonly referred to as mainland Tanzania) became independent on December 9, 1961.  Zanzibar, which also saw successive colonial rulers (p. 15), including under Portugal, the Busaidy Dynasty and Britain, gained its […]