By Horace E. Hobbs
Hampton Union, Date Unknown (ca. 1980s)
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
As a boy growing up in Hampton, about 1910, Memorial Day was a day of celebration and jubilation. Age 8 to 10 years was a very impressionistic period. Memorial Day was a day of honor to be remembered.
You see, my grandfather, Alonzo Lawrence Blake, who lived on Mill Road, was a veteran of the Civil War (the War Between the States). The “Men in Blue” always paraded at Hampton Falls in the morning. They came back at noon and had dinner in the Old Town Hall, served by the Women’s Relief Corps, which was the auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic. My mother, his daughter, “Dena,” was one of these.
After dinner, everybody went to the large hall upstairs for the ceremony before the parade to the cemetery on High Street. The two veterans, who seemed to be officers of the Grand Army Post were, I believe, Oliver Godfrey and John Mace. The flag was brought down the middle aisle by the color guard and saluted, the pledge of allegiance was made by all present and the “Orders of the Day” read by the Commander of the Post. There were of course, slight business matters of concern to be attended to, and then all went to the street level, in front of the Town Hall, where the parade was formed. How proud all of the relatives were of “their men” resplendent in their blue uniforms, decorated with gold braid and wearing white gloves.
With band playing and flags flying, we started our march to the cemetery up Academy Avenue to decorate the graves of those brave men who had fought to “save the union” and were now at home with their Maker. Fortunate was I, and other boys like me, to walk beside their grandfather and carry a plant pot with a flowering red geranium to place by some departed soldier’s monument.
Marching up the many paths of the cemetery, we would stop at each lot where a Stars and Stripes flag was flying. The band would stop playing, the men in uniform stood at attention, while the others removed their hats. The drummers rolled their tattoo and taps were sounded, as a young boy stepped forward with his geranium and placed it on the grave. This went on of course, until all of the flag-marked graves had been decorated.
Then all assembled at the central monument in the cemetery. Some people, both soldiers and civilians, made brief remarks; a prayer was said, taps was sounded and all were “dismissed.”
It was all over for another year and each year we wondered which soldier would be missing from this group at “taps” next year.
It was a day of glory. It was a day filled with pride. It was a day of honor. We should have more of these.