Every Memorial Day since the advent of social media, I am struck by the confusion between Veteran’s Day, created to honor all of those who served & still serve, & Memorial Day, created to honor all those who lost their lives fighting in the U.S. Military.
Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” after the end of the Civil War, to honor those who died in the nation’s internal conflict.
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. “The 30th 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,” he proclaimed. *
The date of Decoration Day, as Logan called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
Southern states were not impressed & refused to participate, each state choosing its own special days to commemorate the fallen of those who lost the rebellion.
It was not until 1971 that “Memorial Day” became a national holiday under an act of Congress.
This day is about remembering the great cost of war, on all sides, in human lives & in the lives of those whose loved ones died. It is about not forgetting that price & honoring those who paid it.
In families all across our country, there are generations who served & died. It is those we remember today, those we thank & honor.