It was Tuesday morning and it was raining. But it was also Memorial Day in Columbus in 1916. And a little rain was not going to stop the people in Ohio's capital city from observing this important holiday.

It was Tuesday morning and it was raining. But it was also Memorial Day in Columbus in 1916. And a little rain was not going to stop the people in Ohio's capital city from observing this important holiday.

In fact, rain was nothing new on Memorial Day. A local newspaper noted that since 1889, there had been only four Memorial Days without rain. Those had been in 1890, 1895, 1907 and 1914. If unofficial records were consulted back to when the holiday began shortly after the Civil War, undoubtedly more rainy holidays would have been found as well.

At 8:30 a.m., a long parade formed at Memorial Hall on East Broad Street and began its march toward Broad and High streets. Marching that day were veterans of the American Civil War, the Spanish American War and members of the current Army post at Columbus Barracks.

Accompanying the parade was a large contingent of local Boy Scouts as well as members of the police and fire departments. Musical support for the veterans came from the Ninth Battalion Band and the Veteran Drum Corp.

Some disabled and elderly veterans were transported by automobile along the parade route. The oldest participant on this Memorial Day was 90-year-old Charles Herrick. He provided a living link to an earlier time in the city's history.

Born in New York, he had moved to Circleville with his family when he was 9 years old. In 1837, he came to Columbus when he was 10 years old.

The capital city was a much different place in those days. The National Road and Ohio Canal had arrived a few years earlier, and Columbus had become a bustling city of 5,000 people.

Herrick served in the Mexican War in company B of the Second Ohio Regiment. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 113th Ohio Volunteer infantry and served in that unit for the rest of the war.

A local newspaper reported that Herrick was disabled by a bullet "for a time as the result of a wound received in battle. He still has in his possession the ball that put him out of action."

In the years after the war, Herrick lived in Columbus with his wife and "followed the trade of a plasterer." He participated in all the events of the day in 1916.

At Broad and High streets, the Civil War veterans left the line of march and gathered in Statehouse Square. The rest of the parade turned right and headed north on High Street. As the parade moved away, the Union Army veterans placed a flag and flowers at the statue of President William McKinley.

McKinley had seen action in the Civil War and served with distinction in the unit commanded by future President Rutherford B. Hayes. On this day in 1916, a new museum honoring Hayes was opening at the Hayes homestead, Spiegel Grove, near Fremont. It would be the first of what would later be many presidential libraries.

While the Union Army veterans were occupied at Statehouse Square, the Memorial Day parade reached Spring Street and countermarched back down High Street to State Street, picking up the veterans at the Statehouse.

The entire parade turned left on State Street and moved east to Fourth Street. Here, a long line of electrified streetcars was waiting to take the veterans to the next stop on the agenda.

For many veterans, that stop would be Green Lawn Cemetery, where literally truckloads of flowers were waiting to be placed on every known veteran's grave in the cemetery. Speeches and religious services were held at Soldier's Circle in Green Lawn, but the real business of the day was the placement of the flowers.

Similar observances were held in the afternoon at Mount Calvary and Union cemeteries as well as at a number of smaller township and village cemeteries in central Ohio.

For one last year, Memorial Day in Columbus was a time for a people at peace to remember those who had died fighting to keep that peace. A local paper noted that in the previous year, 35 men had died in the service of their country.

"Most of them met death along the Mexican border or with the punitive expedition which dashed into the southern republic after the tragic Columbus raid."

Pancho Villa's men raided Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916. An American force with a number of men from Columbus pursued Villa for much of the next year.

A local paper editorialized on this Memorial Day, "Let us hope and pray that the time never may come when it shall be necessary to take up arms in a war of defense."

In less than a year, America would be in World War I.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek News.