Boalsburg, Pa., Birthplace of Memorial Day 阵亡将士纪念日的来历

         鲍尔斯堡是一个坐落在美国宾西维尼亚州中央郡里的一个古色古香小镇;它就在322号路边,那个风景如画的艾勒格尼斯的山脚下。在地图上,它只是一个小点儿,如果你开车不经意的话,你就会错过这弯绕的山谷下面的路旁有一块简单的小牌子,上面写着:“鲍尔斯堡: 一个美国的小村庄 - 阵亡将士纪念日的诞生地。”

这有什么值得自夸的地方呢?

故事是发生在一八六四年十月,一个晴朗的礼拜天,在村后的一个村民的墓地里,那里有美国南北战争时期的英雄烈士们墓地。他们是被并排地埋葬在殖民地时代的先锋们的墓地中间。

就是在那一天,一个美丽、才十几岁的年轻女孩,伊玛·亨特和她的朋友一起从花园里拿了一束鲜花放在她父亲里本·亨特博士的坟墓上。里本·亨特博士是一位联合陆军的外科医生,那时才去世不久。也就是在同一天,一位名为以利沙伯·玛雅女士在她的儿子阿莫斯的坟上撒鲜花。阿莫斯在部队里是二等兵,他是在格笛堡战役的最后一天倒下的。

于是,这两人和她们的朋友就在附近的坟地里遇见了:那女孩子是为了她曾经是军官的爸爸;那年轻的妈妈是为了她那被招募到军队的儿子,各自都拿了一篮子亲手摘来的鲜花来表示纪念。相见之后,她们就聊开了。那年轻的妈妈就很自豪地告诉那女孩,她的儿子是个多么好的青年,他又是在南北战争爆发之后如何放下手中的农活参加了联合陆军,在战场上他又是如何勇敢地战斗。

那女孩听了以后,很慎重其事地把一些花放在阿莫斯的坟墓上以示尊敬和哀悼。那年轻的妈妈也转去那女孩爸爸的坟墓,将她那些刚采的花放在里本·亨特的坟墓上。这两位女士发觉她们有着共同的忧伤,同样的情谊让她们都跪在宾西维尼亚中央郡的这一小小墓地里,而妮特利山脉始终环绕在边上,保护那些躺在这个墓地里的英雄们。在那个时候,她们俩并没有觉得她们这样做会对她们俩以外会造成什么样的影响,她们只觉得这仅仅是因为相互分享而点燃了她们内心对已故亲人的思念。但是,真是由于这两位女士,开始了第一个阵亡将士的纪念活动。

在这一八六四年十月里个已故礼拜天,就在这两位女士告别之前,她们决定明年同样在这个时候,要再来这个墓地。不仅是为了纪念她们自己的亲人,也要为所有被埋葬在这里的英雄们。中间有的坟墓虽然已经没有人会来扫墓,她俩也决定要来扫墓纪念。在之后的日日月月,她们俩不断地与她们的朋友和邻居,并一切对这个活动有热心的每一个人,商量这个小小的计划。记录显示,就在她们指定的那一天,一八六五年七月四日,就是这两位女士所计划的一个非正式的会见,变成了一个整个社区的礼拜仪式。那天,整个鲍尔斯堡居民全都来了,一位牧师乔治·豪尔博士讲道,然后给所有的坟墓,一个也不漏地,全用鲜花和旗帜装饰起来。

那天在这平静,四围以山脉镶边山谷里所举行的扫墓纪念活动绝对是壮重的;然而在不久以前,这里曾是印第安人举办他们的重要会议场所。这样的场景激发了美国著名诗人朗费罗为此而写下了:

你的宁静如同帐篷一样驻扎在这片绿色的土地上

我们为你们装饰了极为华丽的花朵

你已经为我们而受难

对你们的悼念将与世长存

这个真是对那些在鲍尔斯堡把这个好习惯传下来的人们是个恰到好处的描写。他们一个传一个地在街坊邻舍中传播,接纳了一个在每年春季的“装饰日”,来到这里用鲜花纪念烈士们。在一八六八年五月四日,就是在鲍尔斯堡的小小的坟地上一次会议以后的第四年,约翰·A·卢耿将军任共和大军队的司令员时,宣布一八六八年五月30日为“向为保卫国家而英勇牺牲的各位同志献花日”。他为此签署了一项命令,为了“从今以后可以年复一年地进行”。于是就此执行了。

在起初,这个纪念活动仅仅是为了纪念南北战争中阵亡的联邦战士们(北方【译者注】),后来这个纪念活动就扩展到无论是北方的还是南方的将士;最后,就包括所有在战争中为美国而牺牲的所有英雄。就是为了纪念从美国独立战争一直到第二次世界大战中牺牲的英雄将士。这就是为什么著名诗人奥利弗·霍姆斯在他的不朽著作所说的不是空话、不是毫无意义的。他说,“永远是一面旗帜、一片土地、一颗心、一双手、一个国家”。

事实上,阵亡将士纪念日应该在一八八二年共和大军队就极力主张设立“真正的确立五月30日为阵亡将士纪念日”,而不是一个献花日。如今,绝大部分美国人都以这一天来扫墓,不论死者是在战争中还是在和平时期,也不论死者是战士还是平民。由于对“阵亡将士纪念日”意义的延伸,已经不再仅仅是局限于军事上的意义,而是具有很宽广的意义。现在一年中的这一天,是为了对那些已经走完世界上的日程者表示敬意和纪念。

当然,有的人会说这个扫墓、纪念死者的惯例是从美国南方开始的。从某个角度来说这是没错的。在美国南方有很多妇女早就在那些倒下的英雄墓上撒鲜花;毫无疑问美国北方的妇女也早就这样做的;至今南方一部分州还是有他们自己的扫墓日。

即使是这样,这些言论既不会与鲍尔斯堡人们所说的故事有什么抵触,也不会减少他们自豪地声称是从他们那里开始的。本人现在也无法断定到底什么是事实;我也不能断言,卢耿将军在一八六八年所签署的命令与一八六四年在鲍尔斯堡发生的事到底有什么联系。我只是将人们告诉我的写了出来。不管怎样,我倒是很愿意相信这样的说法 - 说真的,我相信他们的说法 - 我们现在每年过的阵亡将士纪念日是在宾西维尼亚州“一个美国的小村庄”郊外的一个小小的墓地上,从一个自豪的妈妈和一个伤心的女儿相遇、对那躺在坟墓里的勇敢的儿子和英勇的爸爸撒鲜花而开始的。

上面这一段文章是从一九四八年五月份的“国家共和杂志”上,由哈伯特·G·姆俄所写的文章中载录出来的。这篇文章又被众议员雅各··贞特代表中央郡的选民再次记录于一九四八年五月19日的国会记录中。

 

注:

全美国有二十四个社区提出断言他们是阵亡将士纪念日的发源地。在一九六六年,约翰逊总统代表美国政府批准纽约州的滑铁卢为“官方”的阵亡将士纪念日发源地。因为一百年以前,在一八六六年,那里的纪念活动已经计划周密而且进行的完全。另外一些鼓舞人心的、很早就开始建立这样的阵亡将士纪念日和进行纪念活动的社区有:阿拉巴马州的莫巴尔、阿拉巴马州的蒙特古玛丽、阿肯色的坎藤、乔治亚州的亚特兰大、乔治亚州的米力其威尔、路易斯安那州的新奥良、密西西比州的哥伦比亚、密西西比州的杰克森、密西西比州的维克堡、北卡罗来纳州的冉里、俄亥俄州的辛辛那提、南卡罗来纳州的查尔斯顿、弗吉尼亚州的弗雷德里克斯堡、弗吉尼亚州的朴茨茅斯、弗吉尼亚州的沃伦顿、和美国首都华盛顿。


讨论问题:

1.   你是否对已经离世的家人举行什么特殊的纪念活动?

2.   你是否对某个已经离世的人有什么特别的记忆可以与大家分享?

3.   2014年美国的阵亡将士纪念日是在五月26日,通常在这个日子美国人都会在室外进行烧烤。你是否听说过美国的烧烤?你是怎么听说的?

Boalsburg is a quaint little village situated in Centre County, Pa., just off Route 322, in the picturesque foothills of the Alleghenies. It's only a dot on the map, and you as a casual driver might drive past it without even being aware that it is nestled there in the rolling valley beneath a coverlet of oaks and pines and cedars - were it not for a plain little marker by the side of the road: "Boalsburg. An American Village - Birthplace of Memorial Day."

What about that boast?

It happened in October, 1864. It was a pleasant Sunday and in the little community burial ground behind the village the pioneers of colonial times slept peacefully side by side with the recently fallen heroes of the Civil War.

It was this day that a pretty, young teen-age girl, Emma Hunter by name, and her friend, Sophie Keller, chose to gather some garden flowers and to place them on the grave of her father, Dr. Reuben Hunter, a surgeon in the Union Army, who died only a short while before. And it was this very same day than an older woman, a Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer, elected to strew flowers on the grave of her son Amos, who as a private in the ranks, had fallen on the last day of battle at Gettysburg.

And so the two with their friend met, kneeling figures at nearby graves, a young girl honoring her officer father, a young mother paying respects to her enlisted-man son, each with a basket of flowers which she had picked with loving hands. And they got to talking. The mother proudly told the girl what a fine young man her son had been, how he had dropped his farm duties and enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the war, and how bravely he had fought.

The daughter respectfully took a few of her flowers as a token and placed them on the son's grave. The mother in turn laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the father's grave. These two women had found in their common grief a common bond as they knelt together in that little burial ground in Central Pennsylvania where Mount Nittany stands eternal guard over those who sleep there. Nor did they realize at the same time that their meeting had any particular significance - outside of their own personal lives; it was just that they seemed to lighten their burdens by sharing them. But as it happened these two women were participating in their first Memorial Day Service.

For the story goes that before the two women left each other that Sunday in October, 1864, they had agreed to meet again on the same day the following year in order to honor not only their own two loved ones, but others who now might have no one left to kneel at their lonely graves. During the weeks and months that followed the two women discussed their little plan with friends and neighbors and all heard it with enthusiasm. The report was that on July 4, 1865 - the appointed day - what had been planned as a little informal meeting of two women turned into a community service. All Boalsburg was gathered there, a clergymen - Dr. George Hall - preached a sermon, and every grave in the little cemetery was decorated with flowers and flags; not a single one was neglected.

It must have been an impressive ceremony that took place that day in this peaceful mountain-rimmed valley where not so long before the red men had held their councils. It must have been such a scene as this that inspired Longfellow to write:

		Your silent tents of green
		We deck with flagrant flowers:
		Yours has the suffering been,
		The memory shall be hours.

It seemed such a fitting and proper way of remembering those who had passed on that the custom became an annual event in Boalsburg, and one by one the neighboring communities adopted a similar plan of observing "Decoration Day" each spring. On May 5, 1868, just four years after that first meeting in the little burial ground, Gen. John A. Logan, then commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), issued an order, naming May 30, 1868, as a day "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country." He signed the order "with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year." And so it has.

Ceremonies at first were held to honor only those who had served the Union cause in the Civil War, later the program was broadened to embrace the men who fought in gray as well as in blue, finally to include all heroes who have made the supreme sacrifice in all American conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II. Which, of course, is as it should be if Holmes' immortal words are not to become an empty, meaningless phrase-- "One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation evermore."

As a matter of fact, Memorial Day - and it should be noted that in 1882 the GAR urged that "proper designation of May 30 in Memorial Day" - not Decoration Day - is now observed by most people as a day when we pay respect to all who have died, in war or in peace, as soldiers or as civilians. To a very large extent Memorial Day has lost its pure military significance and in a broader sense has become the one day in the year when all of us pause in respectful tribute to those who have walked these paths before.

Of course, some people will tell you that this custom of honoring the dead originated in the South. And in a way this is true. Many southern women did strew flowers on the graves of their fallen heroes - no doubt many northern women did too - and several of the Southern states still observe their own dates.

But all this does not necessarily conflict with the story told by the people in Boalsburg, and does not weaken the claim which they so proudly make. This writer now has no way of verifying the facts; I cannot state with certainty that there was any connection between the order issued by General Logan in 1868 and the events in the Boalsburg cemetery that day in 1864; I know only what the people tell me. But somehow I like to believe - and I do believe - that Memorial Day, as we know it and observe it generally today, was born in that tiny Pennsylvania graveyard on the outskirts of "An American Village," when a proud mother and a grieving daughter met to scatter flowers over the final resting places of a brave son and a gallant father.

The above is an excerpt of an article which was written by Herbert G. Moore for the National Republic Magazine in May 1948 and which then Congressman James Van Zandt, representing his Centre County constituents, had reprinted in the Congressional Record of May 19, 1948.

 

NOTE: Twenty-four (24) communities nationwide lay claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. In May 1966, Pres. Lyndon Johnson on behalf of the U.S. government sanctioned Waterloo, New York, as the "official" birthplace of Memorial Day because that community's earliest observance 100 years earlier in 1866 was considered so well planned and complete. Among the earliest communities which felt inspired to set aside a special day for remembrance of its war dead were Mobile, Ala.; Montgomery, Ala.; Camden, Ark.; Atlanta, Ga.; Milledgeville, Ga.; New Orleans, La.; Columbus, Miss.; Jackson, Miss.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Raleigh, N.C.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Charleston, S.C.; Fredericksburg, Va; Portsmouth, Va.; Warrenton, Va.; and, Washington, D.C.

Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pacentre/memory.htm


Discussion questions:

1.       Do you do anything special with your family to remember your past relatives?

2.       Do you have any good memories of anybody special that has passed that you can share about?

3.      In America it has also become a time of family gathering for outdoor barbeque on May 26th in 2014. Have you heard about American barbeque? If so, how did you hear about it?

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