I wanted to share a few images from Decoration Day 1917. These photographs were taken near the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Monument in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Turn out was higher than for Decoration Day parades in recent years, which is not surprising given that this was the first Memorial Day since the call for war. The parade route was actually cut shorter in 1917 to accommodate the increasingly infirm veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. About four hundred GAR veterans marched in New York City’s 1917 Decoration Day parade, one hundred and thirty fewer than just a year earlier. Veterans of the Spanish-American War and New York Guardsmen recently returned from Texas fell in behind. All told, 18,000 men and women marched in the parade through the Upper West Side. For the first time ever there was a regiment of Negro troops included in New York City’s Decoration Day parade. Though many would not have grasped it at the moment, the perceptive understood that this was an early sign of the coming of what became the New Negro Movement.
That is Major General J. Franklin Bell, commander of the Department of the East on Governors Island, and Governor Charles S. Whitman on the review stand. In the two middle image, they are there on the right in the box. Conspicuously absent is Leonard Wood, though his spirit in a sense was present. Before leaving New York City several weeks earlier he had given his blessing for a parade of the Public School Athletic League. While the veterans’s event was going on, a separate parade comprised of 40,000 schoolchildren was taking place south of here.
Memorial Day also means baseball. Just north of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Monument in the Polo Grounds Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Philadelphia Phillies lost 5-1 to the New York Giants. He went on to win thirty games that season. The following year Alexander was in France fighting the Germans. The Yankees were in Philadelphia playing the other team from the City of Brotherly Love, the Athletics. The Yankees won a double header and held the A’s scoreless over twenty-four innings. The Dodgers, then still the Brooklyn Robins, lost 2-0 to the Braves in Boston. It’s worth noting that the American League was less than twenty years old at this time and very much a competing association with the National. American League owners consciously put teams in cities were the Senior Circuit already had a presence. It says something about the size and influence of Gotham that unlike Boston, Philadelphia, and other cities New York ended up with not just two but three teams.
Enjoy your Memorial Day, everyone.
(images/Library of Congress)