On April 25, 1866, women in Columbus, Mississippi laid flowers on the graves of both the Union and Confederate dead in the city’s cemetery. The early celebrations were simple, somber occasions for veterans and their families to honor the dead and tend to local cemeteries. A few years later the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th of each year.
It is believed that date was chosen because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Now on the last Monday of May each year we honor those who have served our country in a celebration known as Memorial Day.
Here in Vicksburg Memorial Day is a day of both reflection and celebration. We honor those who have so courageously protected America from harm and we share our blessings with our families and friends. The Memorial Day Parade along Washington Street on Monday, May 29th will pay tribute to the men and women from all branches of the military. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m. and will run from Belmont to Jackson Street.
Following the parade at 1:00 p.m. the National Park Service in conjunction with local veterans and the 3rd US Colored Cavalry will host a remembrance event and flag-raising ceremony at the Vicksburg National Cemetery.
The Vicksburg National Military Park needs your help to place American flags on each of the 18,000 graves in the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Just be at the cemetery at 7:30 a.m. on May 26th. No registration is required. Help removing the flags will be needed on Tuesday, May 29th starting at 7:30 a.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, May 27th and 28th the 3rd United States Colored Cavalry living history organization will be in the park on Pemberton Avenue portraying the African-American involvement in the Union Army during the Civil War. The cavalrymen will be present from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day with ranger talks and living history demonstrations.
The rededication of the Missouri State Monument will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday May 27th. The rededication ceremony marks the 100th anniversary of the monument. The program is presented by the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park, the Missouri Sons of Union Veterans and the Missouri Sons of Confederate Veterans. Parking will be at the U.S.S. Cairo and a shuttle bus will be provided for transportation to the site of the ceremony.
The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra will take the stage for Symphony at Sunset on the grounds of the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center. The concert is free and begins at 7:00 p.m. Shuttle buses will transport guests from the parking lot of the Outlets at Vicksburg beginning at 5:00 p.m. and return shuttles will run until 10:00 p.m.
After a day of celebration and play enjoy some live music in Vicksburg: The Key to the South.