Memorial Day Celebrations Throughout the Years: Stories from the Carpinteria Chronicle

Memorial Day has only been a legal holiday since 1971, but it has been unofficially celebrated since 1866. The Carpinteria Chronicle, a local paper run from 1933 to 1939, covered the holiday a few times. In this article, we will discuss five instances in which it was mentioned in the paper.

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 26, 1933

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 26, 1933

This description of events in Carpinteria, written not long after the beginning of the newspaper, describes the planned events of the Memorial Day service. Presentations that day, according to the newspaper, unfortunately did not consist of a parade, but the town of Carpinteria did hold several events. The events began at 10 am, consisting of music and several speeches. Additionally, there was a Ceremony of the Firing Squad in which flowers were dropped into the town from airplanes. The events largely involved schoolchildren who lived in the Carpinteria area.

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 24, 1934

In 1934, the Carpinteria Chronicle ran two articles about the holiday. The first covered an event at the Carpinteria high school. This event, similar to the one held a year prior, included singing and speeches as well. 

An additional article, “American Legion Plans to Observe Memorial Event,” gives notice of other events planned by the same group that ran celebrations the year before, in 1933. The article cites that there would not be a speech at this event, but that there would still be live music and singing. The event would happen on Wednesday, May 30, the day after the one at the high school at the cemetery, which they held on Tuesday. 

Oddly enough, in addition to talking about the planned events of the holiday, the article addressed some anti-communist agendas the American Legion was involved in, although there was no more elaboration in the article, nor was there any more information or commentary on communist agendas in the newspaper.

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 31, 1934

This article from several days later discussed some of the songs that were included in the event, which were: “America, Dixie,” the “Star Spangled Banner,” and “Over There.” Despite what was written in the article from the week before, this article indicates that there was in fact a speech by a GB McClellen, which was titled, “The Significance of Memorial Day.”

Other pieces covered where some of Carpinteria’s residents spent their holiday, similar to a gossip section. Some of these are shown below:

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 31, 1934

There was no notice about the holiday until years later, on May 20, 1938, when it is briefly mentioned in the paper that day. 

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 20, 1938

This article does not discuss the holiday much, but it does provide information about the people in charge of planning the event. 

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 27, 1938

Seven days later, the Chronicle had several pieces on the holiday. The piece above is an interesting piece of prose and political commentary. The article asks about sacrifice and gives a short history about the meaning of the holiday. 

Carpinteria Chronicle | May 27, 1938

Another event, once again held by the American Legion in the cemetery, like the ones held in preceding years , was planned with speeches and music abound. In addition to that, there would be a decoration of the graves of the fallen veterans. 

Since the decline of the Carpinteria Chronicle in the year 1939, it is unknown whether the American Legion still holds this event in Carpinteria, which was one that was full of music and speeches, getting the whole town involved. The American Legion is a group that still exists today. Their motto is: “The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.”

Chynna Walker is a third-year History Major and English Minor at UCSB. She can be found studying outdoors and loves driving through Carpinteria on her way south toward home.