Julia Pierpont Day is observed annually on May 28 to honour Julia Augusta Robertson Pierpont’s contributions to the establishment of “Decoration Day,” which became “Memorial Day” and is observed on May 30. Memorial Day is observed to honour the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. Julia Pierpont, the wife of restored West Virginia’s governor Francis Pierpont, began all of this in 1865, following the conclusion of the Civil War. Pierpont observed that the soldiers’ graves appeared to have been abandoned after the conflict. Both the husband and wife took the initiative to decorate the tombs of those who sacrificed their lives in service to humanity. Later in 2005, West Virginia declared it an official holiday.
The background of Julia Pierpont Day
Julia Pierpont was a Dryden, New York, resident. She was an optimist and a well-educated activist who opposed the relocation to a slave state vehemently. After the Civil War, Julia married Francis Pierpont, who was elected Governor of a reestablished West Virginia. When the Civil War broke out, Julia supported her spouse and remained loyal to him. When her husband was forced to leave the house, she devoted her time caring for children and sewing flags for Union soldiers alongside women from her neighbourhood. Throughout the war, she worked tirelessly and with fervour to guarantee the soldiers’ comfort and health.
Throughout the Civil War, the Pierponts supported the Union Army and Abraham Lincoln. They were isolated in enemy territory in Richmond, Virginia. When some of the previous supporters set fire to Pierpont’s library, this became a reality, as residing in enemy territory is typically accompanied by disruptions. All Confederates who had served in the army were pardoned by the governor, creating tension between the governor and the unionists.
During this unfortunate circumstance, Julia observed that the graves of the deceased appeared neglected and were in poor condition. Julia and her companion Miss Woolsey, who both taught in African-American schools in 1866, decorated the graves of soldiers buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, West Virginia. Julia, along with Miss Woolsey, her pupils, and a large number of other students, marched to the cemetery to assist in cleaning and decorating the graves with flowers. Even though it was exhausting and disagreeable, the mission was completed in 10 days, including the construction of a fence around the new Union cemetery. On May 1, 1865, 10,000 people (primarily black residents) congregated at the cemetery to listen to sermons and sing in honour of the fallen soldiers.
Julia’s action garnered both praise and criticism. Later on May 30, ‘Decoration Day’ was observed throughout Richmond, with tens of thousands of individuals gathering to decorate confederate graves. Other early and local Memorial Day or Decoration Day observances ultimately resulted in Congress declaring the day a legal holiday. During World War I, the list of those being honoured was expanded to include all those who died while serving in the military. In 1987, the West Virginia University Public History Programme, the Centre for Women’s Studies, and the Historic Preservation Unit recognised Julia Pierpont as the founder of the annual “Memorial Day” celebrations.
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5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT JULIA PIERPONT’S MEMORIAL DAY THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW
Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Athenians celebrated their loved ones with annual holidays and feasts.
About a century passed before Decoration Day was renamed Memorial Day.
Waterloo was accorded federal status in 1866, despite the fact that there has always been competition among communities over who observed the day first.
The tradition is associated with the poetry that gave expression to the battle-dead soldiers buried on poppy-covered grounds.
The holiday’s traditions have evolved and are now celebrated with greater fervour.
JULIA PIERPONT DAY DATES