KNOXVILLE (News Sentinel) -- What began as a simple twitch of Knoxville's spring weather in 1874, may have played a leading role in one of the great traditions of Memorial Day in the South.

Laura Richardson, a New England transplant who had arrived in Knoxville in 1866 to teach, is believed to be the woman who began the tradition of placing flags on the graves of veterans on Memorial Day.

And that observance began in Knoxville when the women's group she chaired ran out of flowers and turned to the American flag to decorate the graves.

Spring in 1874 in Knoxville had arrived very early and by late May flowers were scarce in home gardens. There was an estimable dilemma afoot — not enough flowers, especially roses, to decorate the large field of tombstones at National Cemetery.

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