by Delia

The first day set aside to honor fallen war dead in the United States was in 1866, when the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia, passed a resolution to set aside one day a year to honor fallen Confederate dead, and invited ladies in the other Southern states to join with them. The date chosen was April 26th, to commemorate the day in 1865 when Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered to General W.T. Sherman in North Carolina. Women in other former Confederate states joined the April 26th observance, but a few states chose other dates in honor of more local Confederate heroes. In Columbus, Mississippi, local women went to decorate the graves of Confederates who died at the Battle of Shiloh and noticed that the resting places of the Union fallen were bare and neglected, so they decorated those graves as well.

In 1868, John A. Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, called for a national Decoration Day to honor the Union dead. May 30th was chosen because it did not honor one specific battle. Participation grew, and the name gradually changed to Memorial Day. Observance changed to the last Monday in May under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in the 1960s. It is believed by some that the purpose of the day has been lost by many Americans who now see the holiday weekend as just the beginning of summer, but many still observe the day with parades, lowered flags and decorating the graves of soldiers with flags and flowers.

Take a few minutes today to honor the memory of our country’s fallen dead.