With all the talk of road trips and crowded airports, Memorial Day is mainly known as the official start of the vacation season in the United States. However, its original purpose was to honor war dead. Read this fascinating articles about the African American roots of the holiday here.
The women gathered at the center of this 1924 photo were gold star mothers, meaning that they had at least one child who had died in combat. Lest we assume that these children were men, women—young and old—died in World War One as well.
By the clothing, we can see that it was a chilly Memorial Day in 1924. Most of the women are in coats and hats. One even wears the ubiquitous fur scarf of the twenties. The cloche hats are quite wonderful, decorated with flowers, ribbons, feathers, and pins.
I puzzled over the hat worn by the older woman on the left, decorated with what appears to be giant polka dots from afar. A closer look shows that they might be embroidered gold stars—so she could wear her pride and grief for all to see.