Memorial Day was marked for the first time in San Diego in 1882. As was true elsewhere across the country, the commemoration originated in the last decades of the 19th century with people decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers. A national organization of Civil War veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR, played a strong role in honoring its fallen comrades, as shown in the notice above. As preparations for the San Diego commemoration were made, the GAR also invited veterans of an earlier conflict, the Mexican War, to participate.
On May 30th, veterans of both wars decorated the graves of their fallen compatriots, then marched to Armory Hall for a commemorative ceremony that included prayers, a concert by the City Guard Band and poetry readings before ending with the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
On this day 175 years ago, May 13, 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. I thank Judy Russell, author of the blog, The Legal Genealogist, for reminding us all of this anniversary, marking the beginning of a war that profoundly re-shaped the two nations who fought it. That included of course, a literal physical reshaping of the territories of these two nations, especially the then-Mexican province of Alta California, and its southern-most region, containing the then-small village of San Diego. In December of 1846, the San Diego region would be the setting for the Battle of San Pasqual, the bloodiest battle of the war. The war would last until 1848 and end with Alta California becoming a territory of the United States and, in 1850, the 31st state in the USA. And one of that state’s first counties would be called San Diego.
Here’s a link to Russell’s post, which offers info about the records which researchers can plumb for more information about the war and the people who fought it. That’s history for you!