Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is for remembering those who have died while serving in our country’s Armed Forces.  Today, Save Ellis Island honors the brave men and women of the military who have passed away in defense of the United States. On this day, many people visit cemeteries and memorials. In National cemeteries, volunteers decorate each grave with an American flag.

World War I.Coast Guard

America is “the land of the free because of the brave” and we often hear “God Bless America.” A famous song that was actually written by a Russian, Jewish immigrant who passed through Ellis Island, composer - Irving Berlin.

Irving Berlin 1906Irving Berlin emigrated through Ellis Island as a child on September 14, 1893 under the name Israel Beilin. His ship, the Rhynland, departed from the city of Antwerp, Belgium when he was just five- years-old. He lived in NYC until his death in 1989 at the age of 101. During his lifetime, he wrote 1,500 songs, 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood movies. His most famous song “God Bless America” was written in 1918 during World War I while he was serving in the U.S. Army.

Ellis Island played an intregual roll during World War I. Many sick and wounded soldiers were cared for at the Ellis Island Hospital. In 1918, the War and Navy Department took over much of the island for the care of injured and sick soldiers and sailors. From 1918 until 1919, the Army’s Medical Department took over the Ellis Island Hospital portions of the Main Immigration Building. While the Navy used the baggage and dormitory building and other rooms in Immigration Building for quartering thousands of Naval personnel.

We also can’t help but think of today as the start of summer. Time for pools, barbeques and everyone’s favorite summer treat ice cream. Did you know that the creation of soft serve ice cream began one Memorial Day by a famous Ellis Island immigrant? Ice cream entrepreneur, Tom Carvel came through Ellis Island this month in history on May 26, 1911 from Athens, Greece. He began selling ice cream out of his truck in Hartsdale New York in 1929. Then one Memorial Day Weekend, his truck hit a bump that caused a flat tire. In desperate need to get rid of the melting ice cream, he continued to sell his product to consumers. He realized that they actually enjoyed the softer texture. He later opened a road side ice cream stand and established himself as the first retailer to develop and sell soft serve ice cream.

Today we remember this history and we honor those brave men and women who perished for our country.

“God Bless America. My Home Sweet Home.” Happy Memorial Day.