The morning of Memorial Day the children of the public and parochial schools Were formed in a line of March on east Main Street and with an escort of members of Reno post No. 7 and headed by Vincent superb band marched to the National Cemetery and proceeded to place on each grave a new and clean American flag and a reef or Garland of tender fragrant spring blossoms and after the unusual morning ritual by the members of the post the children marched back to town. In the afternoon the sidewalks along Main Street were thronged with people from the town and countryside to witness the March to the cemetery. Chief Marshall Colonel J. C. Llewellyn formed the marchers in line and headed by the city police followed by Vincent’s band leading the carriages carrying mayor John McClung members of the town council governor William O. Dawson, officers of Reno post no. 7 Reverend John MC Elliott of Saint Augustine Catholic Church and reverend F. W. G. Forward chaplain of the army post.
The second division was led by the band of the state industrial school in a long line of cadets of the institution who attracted a very considerable attention by their well-trained movements in the line. The third division was led by veterans’ band of Grafton and was composed of members of the grand army post, the striking feature of this division was the presence of a few Gray clad men wearing the uniform of the confederacy who marched at the side of the men they battled in the 60s. These few seem to have forgotten the bitterness that they held against their northern foes during the civil war for so long and in spirit of amenity marked shoulder to shoulder with the former enemy on this occasion.
At the cemetery reverend father John Mick Elliott began the exercise and invoking the divine blessing followed by a concert of patriotic errors by the bands. Honorable John oh. Sutton came forward and in a fitting speech introduced His Excellency governor Dawson who was in splendid form. His address was interrupted with applause at times by the throng and at its close he shook hands with several 100 people. Reverend F. G. W. Ford pronounced the benediction and the 39th Memorial Day in the National Cemetery is now past history.
So many faces formed Grafton folks was seen on the streets who came to witness the day’s exercises among them Mrs. Ella Lohm of Deer Park, Maryland who as miss Ella Shaw was one of the 36 young girls who participated in the welcome to Colonel B. F. Kelly at the old Baltimore and Ohio train station on that historical May 30th, 1861, at the very beginning of the civil war.
Arch C. Love of Charleston who has a lad attended the first memorial exercises on June 14th, 1868. W. W. McDaniel the sage of Cecil who also was present on that day. See. Frank Ellis came from Newburgh who never missed being present since the lab. Miss Willa Grove of Nome city Alaska came all the way from the cold possession of the United States to visit her girlhood friend Mrs. Patrick judge and witnessed the day’s exercise.
Joseph Matlick, a romantic figure and veteran of the civil war who enrolled in the Grafton guards formed by captain George R. Latham at 35 W Main St in May 1861 and he participated in the engagements under general Thomas Morris and Barber Randolph and Tucker counties and was captured during the Salem and who suffered untold provisions and misery while in prisoner of the war the annual grand army and campement at Fairmont in the week of May 25th, 1907.
Wrote The Grafton Sentinel from Cecil saying:
I am just from Fairmont where we, the grand army met to attend the annual state encampment and where several hundred of the most fraternal charitable and loyal men of the Mountain State meant to renew our obligations and in separable ties toward each other, which nothing but the grim hand of death can separate. And even death does not separate them from our minds. We hold them sacred each year in memorial service and strew the resting places with flowers. Many we remember as boys who fell defending our country and flag. Others of riper years, he would have dropped out of the ranks one by one period we retain those in mind and look over and beyond and see them marching on to victory. We had a very enjoyable time at Fairmont.
Everything seemed to favor our meeting. The city, through its good mayor gave us a rousing welcome and turned to the town over to us for three days meeting which privilege and confidence was accepted by us and was not abused. We had a good social time, but very quiet. The people of Fairmont, both soldier and citizen, received us as brothers. I voiced the sentiments of all my comrades when I say Long live the people of Fairmont. I cannot use personals in this short sketch as space will not permit. I would like to say a word however about the good workers in the G. A .R. The Woman Relief Corps And the ladies of the grand army. The woman’s work is very much appreciated by the old soldiers. When they meet in mingle with us it brings to mind the time when we left our home in 61, when our mothers, fathers, sisters and wives gathered around us with their farewell, bidding us to be brave soldiers in defending our homes, our flag, our honor. When we look back to the past, we feel proud of our work and our sacrifice. We can say with pride; this is our home, our country, our peaceful abiding place, where none dare to trample on the flag we saved, and made a possible republican form of government, meant to live and prosper and pass down to our children’s children we hope for all time to come.
In conclusion of this short sketch will say that the people at large do not realize the meaning of Patriotism un the sense it should be understood and taught. The aim and object of the Grand Army is to keep alive and teach love of home “country and flag” when either is involved that no sacrifice is too great, no not even life itself, in protecting them. When we, the soldiers of 61 to 65 pass away, we hope our children and the soldiers of other wars who defend our flag and honor for humanity sake, will not forget their duty as Patriots.”