Origin of Memorial Day
Three years after the Civil War ended, on
The first large observance was held that year at
The ceremonies centered around the
mourning-draped veranda of the
Local Observances Claim To Be First Local
springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various
places. One of the first occurred in
Today, cities in the North and the South
claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and
Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress
and President Lyndon Johnson declared
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
Some States Have Confederate Observances Many
Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead.
Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “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 crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at
The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”
To ensure the sacrifices of
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 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.”
HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No. 11
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or other 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. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. 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.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom they have left among us as a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Department Commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective. By Command of:
John A. Logan
Commander in Chief
The 24-note bugle call known as “taps” is thought to be a revision of a French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking and return to their barracks or garrisons. It was sounded one hour before the bugle call that brought the military day to an end by ordering the extinguishing of fires and lights. The last five measures of the tattoo resemble the modern day "Taps."
The word “taps” is an alteration of the obsolete word “taptoo,” derived from the Dutch “taptoe.” Taptoe was the command -- “Tap toe!” -- to shut (“toe to”) the “tap” of a keg.
The revision that gave us present-day taps was made during America ’s Civil War by Union Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield, heading a brigade camped at Harrison Landing, Va., near Richmond. Up to that time, the U.S. Army’s infantry call to end the day was the French final call, "L’Extinction des feux.” Gen. Butterfield decided the “lights out” music was too formal to signal the day’s end. One day in July 1862, he recalled the tattoo music and hummed a version of it to an aide, who wrote it down in music. Butterfield then asked the brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play the notes and, after listening, lengthened and shortened them while keeping his original melody.
He ordered Norton to play this new call at the end of each day thereafter, instead of the regulation call. The music was heard and appreciated by other brigades, who asked for copies and adopted this bugle call. It was even adopted by Confederate buglers. This music was made the official Army bugle call after the war, but not given the name “taps” until 1874.
first time taps was played at a military funeral may also have been in
We are the dead. Short days ago
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
This was the poem written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with
McCrae's poem had a huge impact on two women, Anna E. Guerin of France and
Guerin had difficulty with the distribution of the poppies in early 1922 and
sought out Michael for help. Michael had started a smaller-scaled Poppy Day
during a YMCA conference she was attending in
However, a shortage of poppies from French manufacturers led to the idea of
using unemployed and disabled veterans to produce the artificial flowers. In
1924, a poppy factory was built in
Donations received in return for these artificial poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years. The poppy itself continues to serve as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation's freedom.
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