There were flags on all the graves and fresh flowers by the cannon at the center of the cemetery.
The history of Memorial Day: http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp
By Fred H. Curtis
Published in "Good Housekeeping," May 24, 1890, p. 28
Sleep in your tents of silent green,
To-day bestrewed with flowers;
Yours have the sacrifices been,
Remembrance shall be ours.
Sleep where no more the foe shall come
With crash of war and strife,
Where sound of bugle call nor drum
Can call you back to life
On other fields, 'mid black-mouthed guns
You fought, our land to save;
To-day a nation mourns her sons,
Her dead and honored brave.
Sleep now in peace your last, long sleep,
While comrades left behind,
As sentinels, the watch shall keep
That you to them resigned.
The standard you to them bequeathed,
For which you nobly died,
With flowers for you to-day is wreathed
In sadness, yet in pride;
In pride for all that you have done
Amid fierce shot and shell;
The victories so dearly won,
The fight you fought so well.
By Sarah E. Howard.
Published in "Good Housekeeping," May 25, 1889. p. 30.
A littler girl her mother sought,
A troubled look upon her face,--
"At school they tease me; had they ought
To tell me that my father fought
For nothing, or for less than naught?
To be a soldier brave, I thought
Was honor, not disgrace.
"Because he did not wear the blue,
He was all wrong the children say;
Was he a good man, mother? You
Have said he fought and suffered too;
Was it not hard for him to do?
Was he not noble, brave and true,
If he did wear the gray?
"To-morrow when the people meet
To decorate the soldiers' graves,
And walk with martial tread, and beat,
Of muffled drums, they will not greet
My father's grave with flowers sweet,
But pass it by with careless feet,
Nor name him with the brave."
The morrow's sun shone bright on high;
Among the crowd a sad-faced child,
The pageant watched with glist'ning eye;
Unreconciled, she wondered why
They should her father's grave pass by.
Her tears no longer could she dry.
In gentle voice and mild,
A stranger clad in soldier's blue,
Inquired, "My child, why do you cry?"
"My father was a soldier too,
And honor to his grave is due,
My mother says that he was true
To what he thought was right, and you--
You people pass it by
Because he wore the Southern gray."
Again her tears fell fast and free.
The soldier paused, kind words to say,
Then with his comrades marched away.
She found her father's grave that day
Bedecked with many a flowery spray.
And cheered at heart was she.