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Memorial Day History
USMemorialDay.org ^ | 1994-2005 | USMemorialDay.org

Posted on 05/29/2011 2:56:56 PM PDT by Salvation

Memorial Day Home Page
 
         
Memorial DayHistory




Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.

To date, there has been no further developments on the bill. Please write your Representative and your Senators, urging them to support these bills. You can also contact Mr. Inouye to let him know of your support.

Visit our Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance page for more information on this issue, and for more ways you can help.



TOPICS: Breaking News; Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airforce; army; decorationday; kia; marines; memorialday; mia; military; navy; thecivilwar; troops

Sources and related links:

1 posted on 05/29/2011 2:56:58 PM PDT by Salvation
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Does anyone else besides me remember your folks calling Memorial Day, Decoration day?


2 posted on 05/29/2011 2:58:59 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Of course, that is what it was called when I was a child before the government made it a three day holiday falling on Monday.


3 posted on 05/29/2011 3:01:48 PM PDT by w1andsodidwe (Barrak has now won the contest. He is even worse than Jimmah.)
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To: Salvation
Yep, and I still do occasionally because of that memory.
4 posted on 05/29/2011 3:02:16 PM PDT by Dust in the Wind (U S Troops Rock)
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To: Salvation
Yes, indeed. This is why. Thank you Gramp.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 1978 OSWEGO VALLEY NEWS PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS the contributions of individual men may not be recorded in the ledgers of history for the world to recognize and remember, yet are the bases for whatever steps forward have been made in a civilized society; and

WHEREAS the contributions of individual men may be quiet, unpublicized, and without material reward yet have the impact of inspiration, respect and positive influence on the lives of everyone touched by their presence; and

WHEREAS Walter J . Buell, died on March 20, 1978 after a long and giving life to family, friends and to the veterans of our community, was just such a man—quiet, gentle, but unswerving in his service to others; and

WHEREAS Walter J . Buell, never a veteran himself but the grandson of a Civil War Veteran, worked in respect of his father’s contribution in the service of his country by his own personal service on behalf of the Sons of Veterans organization and as President of the Fulton Veterans Council;

WHEREAS Walter J . Buell is remembered by all who knew him as travelling miles during Memorial Day seasons to make certain that every veteran’s grave in every cemetery for many miles around was marked with an American flag; and maintained constant personal contact with the members of the area’s veterans organizations, working actively in the best interest of those who fought for their country;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED in this Memorial Day period of remembrance that Walter J. Buell also be remembered and recognized as a man of consequence, a man of gentle manners, but strong conviction who gave without thought of reward or personal recognition, who participated actively in every Memorial Day observance throughout his adult life, and it made a difference in the quality of life for those whose lives touched his.

Percy E. Patrick
Mayor City of Fulton

5 posted on 05/29/2011 3:14:30 PM PDT by lysie
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To: All

**In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
**

Do they still sell poppies like this?


6 posted on 05/29/2011 3:30:49 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Yes. In this area they do.


7 posted on 05/29/2011 3:40:06 PM PDT by lysie
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To: Salvation

YEP....I remember. I also remember the Poppies...


8 posted on 05/29/2011 3:40:54 PM PDT by goodnesswins (...both islam and the democrat plantation thrive on poverty)
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To: Salvation

I have heard at the Cemetery tomorrow on Commercial (Salem) they will have a service at 11am...and there maybe Poppies there!


9 posted on 05/29/2011 3:41:56 PM PDT by goodnesswins (...both islam and the democrat plantation thrive on poverty)
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To: goodnesswins
A time for honor
A solemn tradition the Army uses to honor its fallen soldiers is the memorial ceremony. This patriotic event provides soldiers an opportunity to grieve their losses and render final honors. It is …
 


10 posted on 05/29/2011 3:58:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
On April 25,1866, the ladies of Columbus, MS decorated the graves of the Confederates. When they realized there was no one to decorate graves of the North, they returned for more flowers. A renown Poet, Francis Miles Finch, rode out to the cemetery to see what was going on. He wrote the poem The Blue and the Gray. Check it out. Very moving.
11 posted on 05/29/2011 4:24:21 PM PDT by Cannon6
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To: Salvation

Thanks for posting!


12 posted on 05/29/2011 4:37:11 PM PDT by PROCON (Liberals Mistake Education and Knowledge for Wisdom and Common Sense.)
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To: Salvation

May our fallen Confederate soldiers rest in peace.


13 posted on 05/29/2011 4:37:43 PM PDT by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis (Want to make $$$? It's easy! Use FR as a platform to pimp your blog for hits!!!)
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To: Salvation

Thanks for the posting. Very moving information.

You might want to cc the White House, so that Obama can get up to speed. You could condense it into a description of what the holiday celebrates since he doesn’t appear to know that.


14 posted on 05/29/2011 5:31:17 PM PDT by OldPossum
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To: OldPossum

Nope, that’s what he has a press secretary for. LOL!


15 posted on 05/29/2011 7:41:47 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Cannon6

The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
    Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the one, the Blue,
            Under the other, the Gray

These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day
        Under the laurel, the Blue,
            Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
    Alike for the friend and the foe;
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day;
        Under the roses, the Blue,
            Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Broidered with gold, the Blue,
            Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
    On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment -day,
        Wet with the rain, the Blue
            Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
        Under the sod adn the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the blossoms, the Blue,
            Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day,
        Love and tears for the Blue,
            Tears and love for the Gray.


16 posted on 05/29/2011 7:47:48 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

My late father, a World War II veteran, always called the holiday “Decoration Day.”


17 posted on 05/29/2011 10:39:46 PM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (Palin / West in 2012 or West / Palin. Either combination will serve America well.)
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To: Salvation
Flag Etiquette, Folding the Flag, and WHY THE AMERICAN FLAG IS FOLDED 13 TIMES (courtesy of American Legion Post 143, Post Falls, Idaho)
18 posted on 05/29/2011 10:53:02 PM PDT by meadsjn (Sarah 2012, or sooner)
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To: Salvation; ex-Texan
Excellent historic thread!


19 posted on 05/30/2011 12:39:16 AM PDT by M. Espinola (Freedom is never 'free'.)
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To: Salvation

Bravo.


20 posted on 05/30/2011 2:31:07 AM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: Salvation

Decoration Day is what I always knew it as.


21 posted on 05/30/2011 4:46:22 AM PDT by Tainan (Cogito Ergo Conservitus.)
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To: Salvation

I’ve never seen the poppy-selling done for Memorial Day, ever. I always have associated the poppies with Remembrance Day (November 11) in the Commonwealth countries much more so than with Memorial Day here. I didn’t know about that, thanks!

}:-)4


22 posted on 05/30/2011 4:48:59 AM PDT by Moose4 ("By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!")
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To: Salvation
Does anyone else besides me remember your folks calling Memorial Day, Decoration day?

I sure do. And I was told this day was originally set aside to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers who died defending freedom.

23 posted on 05/30/2011 5:37:20 AM PDT by Upstate NY Guy
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To: Salvation

It was always ‘Decoration Day’ to my mom. Which is why my sis and I got out to the cemetary and decorated the graves. Mom never missed Decoration Day. It just was not done.


24 posted on 05/30/2011 8:11:32 AM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it's the new black. Mmm mmm mmm...)
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To: Salvation

I remember that! I also recall that it always fell on May 30th.

Or so I’ve heard... ;o]


25 posted on 05/30/2011 10:15:15 AM PDT by Monkey Face (Nothing is so bad that a good dose of chocolate can't cure it.)
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To: Salvation

Rest in Peace Heroes.. Thank you for our Freedom!


26 posted on 05/30/2011 11:17:23 AM PDT by DivineMomentsOfTruth ("Give me Liberty or I'll stand up and get it for myself!")
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To: DivineMomentsOfTruth

The jets just did a flyover headed for the Portland area.


27 posted on 05/30/2011 2:27:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I’m proud to claim the good general (John Alexander Logan) as an ancestor (an uncle actually).


28 posted on 05/30/2011 2:36:51 PM PDT by Rockitz (This isn't rocket science- follow the money and you'll find truth.)
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To: Rockitz
From a religious standpoint:

Archdiocese of Washington

memorial-day

Memorial Day, for many, means the beginning of Summer. To others, it is a day off to shop. But, as I am sure you really know Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have died in the service of this country.

The word “memorial” comes from the Latin Memorare which is in an  imperative meaning: “Remember!” So, Memorial Day is “Remember! Day.”

This is a day to remember that there are men and women who have died so that you and I could live with greater security, justice and peace. May these fallen soldiers rest in Peace. We owe them a debt of gratitude and our prayers.

In a secondary sense we can also honor those today who currently serve in the military since they have placed their lives on the line for our security and peace.We will have a second opportunity to thank those who still live on Veterans Day.

God bless them all, and may the dead rest in peace.

The Love of one’s country (Patriotism) is related to the fourth commandment. The Catechism teaches:

It is the duty of citizens to contribute to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. (CCC # 2239)

The Lord himself makes it plain: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13).

My Cousin, John Clem, has blogged on how his parish celebrated Memorial Day by remembering the cost, the high cost, of war in human terms: HERE: Eyes Wide Open

Never forget the price others have paid for our freedom. Pray for our fallen soldiers of every generation and their families. Perhaps you might use this video as a way to meditate on the sacrifices they made. Here the text of the song “Mansions of the Lord” and the video follows:

To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord

No more weeping,
No more fight,
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just Divine embrace,
Eternal light,
In the Mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry
And no children weep,
We shall stand and guard
Though the angels sleep,
Oh, through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord

Photo Credit above: The U.S. Army via Creative Commons


29 posted on 05/30/2011 4:41:55 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Excellent post.


30 posted on 05/30/2011 10:40:12 PM PDT by matt04
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To: Salvation
"Do they still sell poppies like this?"

If you mean live poppies, I don't think so. However, our American Legion post sells artificial poppies made by disabled veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Sell is not really the word, it's actually takes donations. Whatever you want to donate to receive a poppy. I was out there on Saturday taking donations for poppies. People around our area are very supportive of veterans and generous with their money for this.

I really enjoy doing this and meeting and listening to the people. Veterans, sons and daughters of veterans and wives of passed on veterans all come to donate and talk you about their veteran. It's very interesting, cathardic for those people and gratifying for me.
31 posted on 05/31/2011 5:20:11 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Salvation
"Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years."

Perhaps I live in a cloistered part of the country, but here in Southwestern Pa we have numerous Memorial Day ceremonies over this weekend. I participated in two parades myself and I know of many more. Some small and some large. Memorial Day is well observed where I live.
32 posted on 05/31/2011 5:23:50 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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