Memorial Day
Monday, May 25, 2015

The history of Memorial Day dates back to the American civil war, although some tenets of the holiday go back much further. It started as a grassroots movement, and grew into a nationally observed holiday. The power of one’s devotion can truly be heard for generations.

The first widely-publicized observance of a Memorial Day-esque event took place in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865.  During the civil war a large group of Union soldiers died while prisoners or war there. These men were buried in unmarked graves on the Charleston race course.  Teachers, missionaries and freed slaves organized a May day event to commemorate and honor the soldiers who had died there.  Nearly 10,000 people- including many freedmen- took part in the ceremony on that day. This is known as the “First Decoration Day.”

Over the years following the end of the war numerous states began their own ‘Decoration Day’ ceremonies and events.  The memorial movement after the war was a grassroots one- fueled by the respect citizens had for those who gave their lives in the war.  In 1868 General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the veterans group “Grand Army of the Republic,”  called for states across the nation to celebrate their own “Decoration Days” on May 30 (this day was chosen to ensure that flowers would be in bloom).

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