Cemetery, Memorial Day

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Cemetery, Memorial DayWaterloo, NY© karen e. titus | all rights reserved© karen e. titus | all rights reserved

Waterloo, New York

Waterloo, N.Y., takes Memorial Day seriously, staking its claim as this holiday’s birthplace. In the summer of 1865, local druggist Henry C. Welles suggested honoring the Civil War’s dead by placing flowers on their graves. The following May, the village held its first official celebration, draping evergreens with black, flying flags to half mast, and parading to the three village cemeteries to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers.

One resident was moved by a more pragmatic patriotism. Speaking from the diner she owns on Main Street, which was filled with American flags, she watched through the window as other town residents worked in a frenzy to prepare for the parade. “They’re expecting 30,000 people. Where’re they gonna put them? 20,000 people. No room. 10,000 people. Where’re they gonna put 10,000 people? They’re making a big mistake.”

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