Portsmouth, Virginia: When Decoration Day Parades led to the cemeteries…

Mount Calvary Cemetery Memorial Day Program, May 30, 1935. The Virginia Historical Society

Reflecting back on some of Portsmouth, Virginia’s early Decoration Day parades, when they led to the city’s oldest extant African American cemeteries: the historic Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879) and Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (est. 1912)…

The Memorial Day observance in Portsmouth greatly eclipsed the former celebrations. Promptly at 10:30 a.m., the procession headed by the Municipal Bank, followed by a firing squad of U. S. sailors, the Uniformed Rank of Pythians under command of Major J. T. Fisher, I. B. P. O. of Elks and other secret fraternities. A striking feature was the large number of females in the parade – the Woman’s Relief Corps, the Patriotic Daughters of the G. A. R. and about six hundred school children dressed in white middie suits. A company of boys carried a massive blanket of flowers which was later placed upon the grave of their former chiefton, Prof. Israel Chas. Norcom, this silent tribute attesting the fact that though he sleeps his memory still is green. Floral tributes were also placed upon the grave of Miss Serena A. Moseley.

The program was very impressive. Dr. W. B. Anderson, preside

Dr. E. H. Hunter delivered the principal address in which he extolled the deeds of the old soldiers and plead for a continued loyalty and patriotism for the American flag.

The singing of the patriotic choir was an enjoyable feature.

After taps were sounded the mounted section of the parade was driven to the Lincoln Cemetery, where the G. A. R. carried on appropriate exercises around the monument.

The Daughters of the G. A. R. received much praise for the splendid granite curbing which they had placed around the monument at a cost of $150.00.

The School Children Honor the Memory of Their Dead

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