General John A. Logan commented on the observances in a speech to veterans on July 4, 1866 in Salem, IL. After General Logan’s General Order No. 11 to the Grand Army of the Republic to observe May 30, 1868, the earlier version of the holiday began to be referred to as Confederate Memorial Day.
The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade.
In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued what was called General Order Number 11, designating May 30 as a memorial day.
In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities observed Memorial Day, and several states had declared it a legal holiday.
Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
While it’s certainly not “wrong” to wish someone a ” Happy Memorial Day,” and it’s safe to assume most people are well-intentioned, it seems as though taking a few minutes to say the right thing will mean much more. After all, the day is about more than backyard parties and barbecues.
Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday in May, honors the men and women who died while serving in the military. Veterans Day, observed every November 11, recognizes all who have served in the Armed Forces.
Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a day to remember those in the American armed forces who have given up their lives in service to our country. The holiday dates back to the end of the Civil War, originally commemorating the quarter of a million lives lost during that four-year period.
What can you do to honor the sacrifice of those who died serving our country? Wear or display a red poppy. Pause at 3 p.m. Read the original Decoration Day proclamation. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert. Display the U.S. flag. Visit a national cemetery or memorial. Attend a parade. Commit your time.
John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia on the fourth Monday in April. In Mississippi it is observed on the last Monday in April.
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).