Why Memorial Day Used to be Controversial

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Origins

After the Civil War ended in April, 1865, the loved one in both the North and the South wanted a way to honor their loved ones who had died in the conflict. In the spring of 1866, the families of the dead in Waterloo, New York organized the first Decoration Day. After that, local springtime tributes to the fallen of the Civil War sprang up in various places.

In Columbus, Mississippi on April 25, 1866, a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. But they noticed the graves of the Union soldiers were neglected. This bothered them, so they placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

In 1968, A Civil War Union veteran organization called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) formed a committee to discuss officially having a day of remembrance. Major General John A. Logan, commander of the GAR, declared Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th and established Decoration Day to be a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

He ordered for his posts to decorate graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime… We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery which had been established two years earlier. 5,000 people showed up for the ceremonies that centered around the Arlington mansion which was once the home of General Robert E. Lee. General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant presided over the ceremonies, and many well known politicians attended and made speeches. After all the speeches were over, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR paraded through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers, and singing hymns.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30th throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for observing Memorial Day.

Controversy in the South

Many Southern states weren’t happy about the Union deciding a day to honor the dead. They felt the holiday was exclusively for the Union dead and boycotted it. They formed their own days for honoring the Confederate dead.

Many of these states still have their own Decoration Day. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April. Alabama honors their Confederate dead on the fourth Monday of April. Georgia celebrates on April 26th. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10th, Louisiana on June 3rd, and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19th, and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Although they have their own Confederate Memorial Day, most Southern States now honor the fallen dead in other US wars on the national Memorial Day.

How It Become and What it is Today

While Decoration Day was originally organized to honor those who died in the Civil War, After World War I, it expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, the name was changed to Memorial Day, and the last Monday in May was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

Every year, on Memorial Day, small American flags are placed on each grave at Arlington Memorial Cemetery, as they are on soldier’s graves throughout our nation. But many families don’t just honor the lives of dead soldiers. They also decorate the graves of all deceased loved ones.

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Memorial Day – Honoring Those Who Died

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

This Memorial Day, we honor those soldiers who died defending freedom during war time.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was officially observed on May 30, 1868 to decorate the graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War. After World War One, it changed to become a day to honor American soldiers who died during wartime throughout American history. Later the name was changed to Memorial Day.

The following list the wars and the number of soldiers who died in battle only. There were many more who died from disease and other factors. All figures are approximate.

American Revolution (1775-1783): 4,435 deaths

War of 1812 (1812-1815): 2,260 deaths

Indian Wars (1817-1898): 1,000 deaths

Mexican War (1846-1848): 1,733 deaths

Civil War (1861-1865): Union deaths 140,414; Confederate deaths 74,524

Spanish American War (1898): 385 deaths

World War 1 (1914-1918): 53,402 deaths

World War 2 (1939-1945): 291,557 deaths

Korean War (1950-1953) 33,741 deaths

Vietnam War (1954-1975) 47,424 deaths

Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) 147 deaths

Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan (2001-present) 1,030 deaths

Iraq War (2003-present) 4,491 deaths

We honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Please comment by listing names of those you know who have died in service to their country and the war the fought in.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.  ~Joseph Campbell

Honoring Those Who Died – Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was officially observed on May 30, 1868 to decorate the graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War. After World War One, it changed to become a day to honor American soldiers who died during wartime throughout American history. Later the name was changed to Memorial Day.

The following list the wars and the number of soldiers who died in battle only. There were many more who died from disease and other factors. All figures are approximate.

American Revolution (1775-1783): 4,435 deaths

War of 1812 (1812-1815): 2,260 deaths

Indian Wars (1817-1898): 1,000 deaths

Mexican War (1846-1848): 1,733 deaths

Civil War (1861-1865): Union deaths 140,414; Confederate deaths 74,524

Spanish American War (1898): 385 deaths

World War 1 (1914-1918): 53,402 deaths

World War 2 (1939-1945): 291,557 deaths

Korean War (1950-1953) 33,741 deaths

Vietnam War (1954-1975) 47,424 deaths

Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) 147 deaths

Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan (2001-present) 1,030 deaths

Iraq War (2003-present) 4,491 deaths

We honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Please comment by listing names of those you know who have died in service to their country and the war the fought in.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.  ~Joseph Campbell

12 Memorial Day Quotes

For Memorial Day, I compiled these quotes to honor fallen soldiers.

For love of country they accepted death…  ~James A. Garfield

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened. Billy Graham

~Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.  ~John A. Logan

The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.  ~Randy Vader

They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. ~John F. Kennedy

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.  ~Francis A. Walker

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. ~ Ronald Reagan

Freedom is never free. ~ Anonymous

 

 

History of Memorial Day and Why it Used to be Controversial

Origins

After the Civil War ended in April, 1865, the loved one in both the North and the South wanted a way to honor their loved ones who had died in the conflict. In the spring of 1866, the families of the dead in Waterloo, New York organized the first Decoration Day. After that, local springtime tributes to the fallen of the Civil War sprang up in various places.

In Columbus, Mississippi on April 25, 1866, a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. But they noticed the graves of the Union soldiers were neglected. This bothered them, so they placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

In 1968, A Civil War Union veteran organization called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) formed a committee to discuss officially having a day of remembrance. Major General John A. Logan, commander of the GAR, declared Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th and established Decoration Day to be a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

He ordered for his posts to decorate graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime… We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery which had been established two years earlier. 5,000 people showed up for the ceremonies that centered around the Arlington mansion which was once the home of General Robert E. Lee. General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant presided over the ceremonies, and many well known politicians attended and made speeches. After all the speeches were over, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR paraded through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers, and singing hymns.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30th throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for observing Memorial Day.

Controversy in the South

But many Southern states weren’t happy about the Union deciding a day to honor the dead. They felt the holiday was exclusively for the Union dead and boycotted it. They formed their own days for honoring the Confederate dead.

Many of these states still have their own Decoration Day. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April. Alabama honors their Confederate dead on the fourth Monday of April. Georgia celebrates on April 26th. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10th, Louisiana on June 3rd, and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19th, and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Although they have their own Confederate Memorial Day, most Southern States now honor the fallen dead in other US wars on the national Memorial Day.

How It Become What it is Today

While Decoration Day was originally organized to honor those who died in the Civil War, After World War I, it expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, the name was changed to Memorial Day, and the last Monday in May was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

Every year, on Memorial Day, small American flags are placed on each grave at Arlington Memorial Cemetery, as they are on soldier’s graves throughout our nation. But many families don’t just honor the lives of dead soldiers. They also decorate the graves of all deceased loved ones.

In a way, this is sad. There are other times we can decorate the graves of our loved ones. It lessens the reason for the holiday, to honor the soldiers who fought and gave their lives for our freedom.

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”