By Thomas Palmer

Today it’s time for a bit of a breather and a special Galion History Corner.

Monday, of course, is Memorial Day. My earliest memory of this particular holiday is making that long trek from Public Square to Fairview Cemetery with fellow Cub Scouts in North School Pack 331. At the time, it seemed like we were hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. In those days, the parade started an hour earlier (at 9:00 AM); otherwise, it is very much the same.

At the risk of revealing my age (but as this is my hometown, that is pretty much a known commodity), in my earliest memories it seems that there were a survivor or two from the Spanish-American War still living, or at least one of their widows.

During my high school years, I spent at least one Memorial Day afternoon with my fellow GHS Marching Band members traveling to Loudonville to canoe on the Mohican. Did I get wet? Who didn’t? Otherwise, it was otherwise full of family picnics and fun.

Here’s a quick look back at events in Galion on a previous Memorial Day. Back in 1881, the holiday was known locally as “Decoration Day,” and the events would seem very similar to today’s Galionites. The day began with a meeting at the Opera House (located on the site of today’s Municipal Building), from which a procession would march down to the cemetery. Right up the street the new St. Joseph Catholic Church, which still stands, was under construction.

This was the year before Fairview Cemetery was opened, so that solemn parade would have marched westward down to Union Green Cemetery at the corner of Church and Union Streets, later the site of Galion High School.

Unfortunately a heavy rain fell that day beginning a bit after 1:00 PM. The Inquirer reported, “In a blinding, driving rain, the Veteran Association, headed by the Galion City Band, marched to the cemetery, and there, amid the tears rained down by the clouds and the solemn dirge of the Band, the graves of the departed were covered with flowers.”

Interestingly, it was noted that the year before Decoration Day fell on a Sunday (this was before the standard Monday holiday was established), and so local ministers refused to participate in the ceremony. In response, in 1881 the Veterans Association refused to send ministers an invitation to participate.

Image by Clarence Alford from Pixabay