For most people including myself Memorial Day means family, barbeque, beer, music, and sunshine with the occasional fireworks thrown in here and there mostly we hold off on those until the 4th of July. But how many of us actually take time out of that great and think back about the history of it all and how Memorial Day actually got started. Here is some fun facts about what Memorial day is about and how it started.
Did You Know that Memorial Day Was Originally Called Decoration Day?
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield stood in front 5,000 participants and made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Than those 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Most graves of soldiers are still decorated on Memorial Day as a sign of respect for their service to our country.
The History Behind Memorial Day And Its Creator
In 1873 New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day. The rest of the northern states recognized the holiday by 1890. Until after World War I the South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days. The only thing that changed their minds was when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
No matter the exact date or location of the first Memorial Day, one thing is very clear. Memorial Day is a holiday that was borne out of a desire to honor our dead and the Civil War. General John Logan made his officially proclaim on the 5th of May 1868. He was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He wrote the General Order No. 11 on The 30th of May, 1868, it stated that it was designated for the purpose of strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion. It purpose was made for those whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
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