Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Has Its Roots in the Civil War

National Geographic News reports, "Every year Memorial Day brings people together in the United States to honor fallen service members on the last Monday in May. Since its post-Civil War beginnings, the holiday has changed considerably and now may be best known as the start of summer vacation season—prompting some critics to call for moving the date away from a three-day weekend.

Reporter Brian Handwerk writes, "Unlike Veterans Day on November 11, which honors all who have served their country, Memorial Day is set aside for special remembrance of those who laid down their lives for U.S. national defense. Despite the modern spirit of patriotic camaraderie, Memorial Day has its roots in one of the most divisive events in U.S. history: the Civil War."

He goes on to say, "Soon after the bloody conflict ceased, General John A. Logan—commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans—called for a holiday to be observed every year on May 30.At the time, that holiday was known as Decoration Day, because Logan wanted to honor the fallen by 'strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating, the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

The first national Memorial Day holiday, designated by Congress, was held in 1971.

Shown above, Decoration Day postcards circa 1866.

For more on this story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM