Category: Memorial DAy names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The holiday we’re celebrating—originally called Decoration Day—was first commemorated in 1868, not long after the end of the Civil War, the bitter, bloody battle between the North and the South that ripped the country apart.
Over the course of the war, more than a thousand soldiers reached the rank of general, six of whom, including Ulysses (born Hiram) S. Grant, went on to become U. S. presidents. And for our purposes, they provide us with a fascinating range of period names.
In addition to the expected profusion of Johns, Jameses, Williams and Thomases, we find many Latinate appellations such as Augustus, Cassius, Marcellus, Gustavus and Theopholus; word names like Strong and Pleasant, and surnames Sullivan, Johnson and Jones.
From this cornucopia of intriguing choices, we pick 15 of the best:
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Before you fire up the barbie or pack up the picnic basket, why not take a minute to think about what Memorial Day memorializes.
The holiday—originally called Decoration Day—was first commemorated on May 30, 1868, not long after the Civil War had ended, and was given that name because it was when flowers were placed on the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In the course of this brutal war that tore the country apart, over a thousand soldiers reached the rank of general, several of whom went on to reach high offices in government, including six presidents– Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harris, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
When Memorial Day—then called Decoration Day—was first observed on May 30, 1868 to honor and decorate the graves of the Civil War dead, much of the impetus for it came from women—particularly in the South. It was a woman poet who conceived the idea of wearing poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who died serving the nation during war.
Over the years, though, the emphasis has been on the brave G.I. Joes who sacrificed their lives. But we’re here to say that there were many equally courageous women who played their parts in and out of the military—as soldiers (sometimes disguised as men—we have to assume they didn’t have to pass a physical), battlefield nurses, scouts and guides, spies (many), messengers and couriers.
Here are the heroine names (including a few unusual ones) of some of the outstanding women who served from the Revolutionary War to World War II—worthy namesakes all.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and first observed on May 30 of that year, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. So this year, instead of looking back again at the names of Civil War generals and such, I thought it could be more enlightening to look instead at well-known people (with interesting names) who were born in 1868—giving us a bird’s-eye view of some aspects of post-Civil War baby naming, both in America and elsewhere.
ALEEN Cust, first British female veternarian
ALMA Kruger, Shakespearean actress, later featured in Dr. Kildare movies
Memorial Day–formerly known as Decoration Day–was first observed on May 30, 1868, shortly after the Civil War, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, so that the roots of the holiday were very much entwined with the War Between the States. It’s always celebrated on the last Monday of May–a date close to the day of reunification of the country after the Civil War.
In the course of this deadly and divisive war, there were over a thousand soldiers who reached the rank of general, many of them becoming national heroes, and namesakes for babies born during and after the war. There were countless little Grants and Lees, just as there were Lincolns and Jeffersons and Davises. Looking at the rolls of officers on both sides, we find some interesting names–both first and last, as well as names attached to battlegrounds– that could still be inspiring today.
UNION GENERALS’ FIRST NAMES
CONFEDERATE GENERALS’ FIRST NAMES
SOME SURNAMES FROM BOTH SIDES
CIVIL WAR BATTLE-RELATED NAMES