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
Family names was the subject of a recent nameberry poll, in which you voted overwhelmingly –70%–in favor of using family names for your baby. Where to look for great family names? In your own family records, of course, as well as in nameberry for ideas of historic names that sound appropriate for modern life. Another great idea: you can hunt for original family names through genealogy sources — and build a family tree for your baby in the process.
The largest number of people who took our poll–46%–were comfortable with taking lots of liberties with Grandpa Wilbur or Grandma Enid‘s name to make them more modern-baby friendly. We’re happy to help. The following are some possible updates for those fusty, musty family names.
Wilma –> WILLA
How have YOU modernized a family name for your child? Tell us here!
Why are celebrity baby names so crazy?
That’s a question reporters often ask us, and we have a pet theory.
Unlike Manhattan lofts and private jets, baby names are free and something everybody has. Therefore, celebrities have to try that much harder to make sure the names THEY choose are more special, more unusual, more elite than the ones available to the rest of us.
So they invent names, or they find them in the baby name books of lands few other people get to visit, or they adopt the names of obscure artists or designers, or they turn what might be an everyday word into an attention-getting name.
Whether these crazy celebrity baby names are true exercises in creativity or ploys for extra notice, it’s hard to say. Not knowing Nicolas Cage personally, I can’t really judge whether naming his son Kal-El comes from the depths of his soul or is an attempt to prop up a flagging career.
It’s hard to imagine Nic saying to his wife, “I know, honey, I love the name Steve, too, but if we name the baby Kal-El, my Q Score is sure to go up and I’ll get an extra mil for my next film.” But it’s equally hard to imagine anyone saying, “Kal-El or Crimefighter? They’re both such fabulous names.”
There’s a difference, I think, between really wacky celebrity baby names and those that are just unusual and offbeat.
Pilot Inspektor, I think is wacky, while Sailor is sweet and unusual. Everly Bear, the name of Anthony Kedis’ infant son, is kinda crazy, while Ever Gabo, Milla Jovovich and Paul Anderson’s daughter, is cute. Julia Roberts’ Hazel is on the sunny side of normal, while twin brother Phinnaeus (especially because of that spelling) is toppling off the edge. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s Sunday is quirky, while other new starbabies Marmaduke and Ptolemy seem to have been chosen mainly as the subjects of press releases.
Celebrities, they’re just like us? Maybe, but not when they name their babies.