Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

I thought I should give everyone a bit of a history lesson since tomorrow is Memorial Day.  Smile!  So here goes.  Enjoy!

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans - the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) -established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be ovserved on May 30.  It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.  The first large observance was held that year at Arlington Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee.  Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.  After speeches, children from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places.  One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh.  Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy.  Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866.  Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va.  The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claimes it began theirs two years earlier.  A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866.  Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan.

Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.  The official birthplace of Memorial Day was declared in 1966 by the Congress and President Lyndon Johnson to be in Waterloo, N.Y.  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.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation.  State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.  It was not until after World War I, however that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.  In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day.  It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

There are even some States who have Confederate Observances. You can find more information at the below link:

We have many Memorial Day events in the Kansas City, Missouri area, and one such event is held at the World War 1 Museum and Liberty Memorial.  Even if you don't go on Memorial Day this museum is well worth visiting.  I prefer to go when it's not crowded because I like to take my time.  There is a lot to see there. 

Liberty Memeorial and WWI Museum
Here is a link where you can get more information about the museum and Liberty Memorial.

I want to dedicate this blog to all of our servicemen and women, and thank you for giving so much to keep our way of life. 
Now, I want to end with a quote from General George S. Patton Jr. (1885-1945) - "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

Personally, I'm thankful for all of our military.  Thank you for reading.  Have a wonderful week, and I'll see you next Sunday.
God Bless America!

Sandra K. Marshall, Author  


Sandy said...

I hope everyone has a great long weekend and stay safe.

Kari Rogers Miller said...

Thanks Sandy for a very informative post today.
I agree with Patton...and God Bless all those who have lost loved ones in their daily lives and those who have lost loved ones in the Military.
Let us never forget all the sacrifices made!
Have a safe and wonderful week-end!

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming by, Kari. I have so lost many in my life, and so many made sacrifices even the ones not in the military.

K.T. Bishop said...

glad there's a holiday to recognized the military personnel who died protecting us....

Sandy said...

Me, too, K.T., and we'll have another on Veterans Day. We owe our ladies and gentlemen in the military so much.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you for sharing the history of such a touching holiday. For me, it is the memory of my loved ones who served and passed that I hold dear.

Locally, Greenfield Village has Civil War remembrances and events. I haven't done them before.

Thank you to all the men and women who served in any of the military throughout the world. It is because of you...we are a better place. x0x0x

Sandy said...

Thank you, Melissa. We owe a debt of gratitude to our men and women in the military. Also, I think we need to remember the dogs who serve, too.

The Comeback Kid said...

Thanks for sharing Sandy. It was very interesting and I learned a few things.