Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day's Historic Origins

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.--Moina Michael

Happy Memorial Day, Everyone! I hope everyone has some fun plans. I've got a busy day, so I probably won't be on much until later this evening. Today, I thought we'd go over the history of this wonderful holiday!

Did you know...

That Memorial Day has it's origins in the Civil War?

It's true. More than 360,000 Union soldiers were killed during the war, and that added to the Confederate casualty count of 240,000. Half a million Americans died during this terrible time, so that all Americans could live free.

People wanted to pay tribute to those who had given their lives for this great cause. Many of the African Americans who had been enslaved or had family members who were wished to honor the brave, white, Union soldiers who shed their blood and often gave their lives for racial equality.

Waterloo, NY is the official birthplace of Memorial Day, though dozens of cities and towns across the nation claim to be. In May, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the honor to be Waterloo's.

General John Logan proclaimed the first Memorial Day (called Decoration Day back then) on May 5, 1868, as a day designated for the "strewing of flowers, or otherwise decorating of 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." (Source)

On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery and decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The South refused to acknowledge the holiday, honoring their dead on a different day until after World War I, when the holiday became more nationalized. It became a day to remember all those lost in the service of their country, not just that of the Civil War.

One story recounts some Mississippi women who visited the graves of Confederate soldier's who'd been lost during the Civil War. There were already plenty of flowers there, but nearby Union soldier graves were completely unadorned because they were the enemy, so the women placed flowers on those graves too. (Source)

Today it is celebrated across the nation, generally on the last Monday in May, with a few exceptions, and is--in this blogger's humble opinion--one of the most beautiful holidays we observe in the States.

Happy Memorial Day, All! Take a moment today to give thanks for the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom in the past and those who continue to risk their lives for the same cause today.

Who will you remember this Memorial Day?


  1. I knew it had been established years ago. Doesn't surprise me the South didn't want to acknowledge that day and made their own.

    1. Yeah, I agree. Disappointing, but really not surprising. Thanks Alex. Hope you had a great Memorial Day. :D