Memorial Day History
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31.
HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY
The Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse Onm April 9. Over 620,000 soldiers died in the four-year conflict. Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization of Union veterans) would eventually select May 30, 1868 as a day to pay tribute to the fallen. Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.
This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years after the Civil War .Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events
In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities observed Memorial Day, and several states had declared it a legal holiday.
After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States.
Confederate Memorial Day is still celebrated in several states and will be on Sunday, April 26, 2020 in Florida; on Monday, April 27, 2020 in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and on May 11, 2020, in parts of South Carolina.
Memorial Day Traditions
Bless the lips that kissed our darling,
As he lay on his death-bed,
Far from home and ’mid cold strangers
Blessings rest upon your head. . . .
O my darling! O our dead one!
Though you died far, far away,
You had two kind lips to kiss you,
As upon your bier you lay.