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Brandon Keeps Faith with Her Fallen Heroes: Civil War Memory in a Vermont Town

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09/28/2005

Brandon, VT, dedicated its Civil War monument on Memorial Day in 1886, 25 years after the town's first volunteers mustered for service in the war at the other end of the town green. The dedication was a major event in the life of the town, and rightly so: more than fifty of Brandon's young men had died in the war, five of them in two days in the Wilderness, out of a town population of slightly over 3,000 in 1860. It was still a raw wound; the memories and emotions of the town's veterans dominated the day. A study of Brandon's Memorial Day is a look at a particular case of the evolution of public memory (and public forgetfulness). In the 1890s, Brandon's Memorial Day ceremonies became less to be occasions mourning the dead and reaffirming the worth of their cause, and evolved into occasions for instructing the young about the value of such attributes as patriotism and courage. Sometime even later on, the ceremonies stopped being about the Civil War altogether. Presented by Dr. Kevin Thornton, Dept. of History, UVM.

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