Back in the (Memorial) Day

Tomb of Unknown Soldier monument, with guard, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, circa late 1930s or early 1940s.

Tomb of Unknown Soldier monument, with guard, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, circa late 1930s or early 1940s.

Following the Civil War through 1968, Americans observed Decoration Day, which eventually became known as Memorial Day, on May 30th.  On June 28, 1968 Lyndon Baines Johnson signed “An Act To provide for uniform annual observations of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, and for other purposes.”  The act, more commonly know as the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” shifted the observance of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May.

Hugh Morton likely photographed the above scene at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery dating as early as the late 1930s or early 1940s, an estimated date range based upon a period of time that we know Morton used that film format (negative film pack measuring 3 15/16 x 3 3/16 inches).  The trees are without leaves, so Morton would have made the photograph sometime during late autumn through the winter months.  The only other possible clue about the possible creation date would be the soldier’s uniform.

 

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