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Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, A Time to Honor and Remember


        In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY, the birthplace of Memorial Day.
        They did this because on May 5, 1866, the town held a service honoring veterans who had fought in the Civil War.
In a General Order in Washington DC, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan said, The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
        We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion."
        What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

        Other towns, including Macon and Columbus, GA, Richmond, VA, Boalsburg PA, and Carbondale, IL, claimed to have had earlier ceremonies, but their events were considered informal and not community wide.
        For example, on April 25, 1866, a group of women in Columbus, MS, decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers killed at the Battle of Shiloh. When they saw that nearby graves of Union soldiers had fallen into neglect, the women put flowers on their graves as well.
        Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, ceremonies were held on May 30 throughout the US, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations on how to properly observe the day at their facilities.
        At the end of World War I, the observance was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May.
        The passing of “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” by Congress in December 2000 encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
        Let us pause today to honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
 
 

Susan F. Craft is the author of a Revolutionary War suspense, The Chamomile, and its sequel, Laurel. A third book in the trilogy, Cassia, will be released September 2015.
 

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reminder that today in NOT just another day off.

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  2. You're welcome, Pegg. I agree.

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  3. Nice article, Susan! I just read one in my Michigan History magazine about the little Michigan girls they credit with starting off the memorials to the Civil War dead. Their father was a chaplain and the family traveled with him.

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