Memorial Day history began around the country after the Civil War. Not official yet, it began with family and friends placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers, both North and South, in the springtime. Then, still unofficially, it became Decoration Day on May 30. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act so that many holidays fell on Monday to make a three-day weekend for federal employees. It went into affect in 1971. Another item to note is that at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day everything stops for a “Moment of Remembrance.”
Here in Fairview, as in other communities across the country, we have a parade. It is sponsored by the American Legion and it’s destination is the Fairview Cemetery where at a specific monument (erected by the local chapter of the GAR – Grand Army of the Republic) many years ago, we have a speaker who talks about the significance of the day. Participants in the parade are invited to a cookout at the Legion following the ceremony (photo on right).
At the Sturgeon House we also have a tradition. We are open on Memorial Sunday as well as on Memorial Day (Monday). Sunday hours are Noon to 4 p.m and Monday hours are about 10:30 a.m. – following the parade – to 4 p.m. At the Fairview Cemetery, the Cemetery Chapel is open from 10 a.m. to Noon. The chapel restoration was the special project of the Bicentennial Committee ‘way back in 1976. The historical Society does not own the building, but does oversee its use and maintenance. (The Chapel is shown as the featured photo.)
At the Sturgeon House during open hours we have always opened a special summer exhibit, usually on a military-based subject… one of the wars the country has entered. And, for many, many years, members of the French Creek Reenactors Association has encamped on the side lawn.
These wonderful traditions will be continued this year. Two changes have occurred: The exhibit will be on Griswold Cookware and it will not continue through the summer. It will be there during the weekend of June 1 and 2 when we will be visited on the side lawn by reenactors of a military unit from World War II who are acknowledging the 75th anniversary of D-Day. And it will be there on Saturday, June 22nd when we host our annual Yard Sale.
It also will be there when the Jefferson Education Society (JES) has two presentations at the Sturgeon House, June 12 and June 26 when George Deutsch, Director of the Erie County Historical Society, will present topics on the Civil War…. Don’t miss these! (Call the JES to register – 459-8000… the programs are FREE!)
MEANWHILE – plan to visit the Sturgeon House during the Memorial Weekend. It’s a tradition and a treat!