Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Eighty-Nine Springs Ago

Besides a paperback of aged predictions, I acquired a couple of other publications during my visit to Coal City recently. For exactly a dollar, I also picked up a booklet put out by the State of Illinois in 1918 simply called Memorial Day. The cover is simple: the Statue of Liberty with an arch-shaped row of flags around it (it looks a little like the statue is in a snow globe). The subtitle is "The Allied Flags of Freedom."

Inside the booklet, you learn that the flags are, in order from left to right -- and positioned so that the US flag is at top, that grand 48-star banner that was actually fairly new in 1918 -- Greece, Brazil, Montenegro, Roumania, Japan, Belgium, Great Britain, United States, France, Italy, Serbia, Portugal, Cuba, Siam, China. (The Russian tricolor was out of the game by then, taken down by bolshies.) Also inside the booklet, there are items such excerpts from President Wilson's speeches on the war, patriotic poems, images of famous American statesmen and soldiers, and some history of Memorial Day or, which even this publications notes, was more popularly called Decoration Day.

Since the state superintendent of public instruction oversaw the production of the booklet (it says so on the title page), it's a safe assumption that it was meant for distribution in the schools of Illinois. That May 89 years ago some kid probably brought it home, it lingered in sight for a while, and when Memorial Day 1918 was over -- or maybe after the First World War was over in November -- it was tucked away somewhere, ending up in a box stored in a series of two or three attics across the decades -- until it was marked for sale in this springtime of AD 2007 and passed to me. A bit of the past for me. With any luck, my daughters will find it among the many other things of mine.


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