Memorial Day | Biography
Day Honoring The Sacrifices Of Fallen Soldiers

Memorial Day | Biography

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for mourning the US military personnel who have sacrificed their lives while serving the United States Armed Forces.

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day, previously tagged as Decoration Day, is celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the military personnel who passed away while serving the country. It originated during the American Civil War after people started putting flowers on the graves of those who lost their lives in battle. More than half a dozen places have claimed to have designated Memorial places.

Memorial Day Commemorating Picture
Memorial Day (Photo: Instagram

After the First World War, the day came to be observed in honor of those who lost their lives in US wars. The name was changed to Memorial Day from Decoration Day, meaning the commemoration of their memory. Thus, since 1971 Memorial Day has been celebrated on the month's last Monday.

Throughout May, various businesses offer different discounts and deals to the public to honor those who died in US battles. This has been a tradition continuing in the US Market to present 2022. 

The Origins of Memorial Day

In October 1864, three different women in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, were believed to adorn their husbands' graves who passed away during the Civil War. The next year a descendant of President John Adams, Mrs. Sue Landon Vaughn took a step in bringing decoration day. She took a few women from her town to Vicksburg, Mississippi, cemetery and decorated the graves of fallen soldiers.

The same year, local women of Winchester, Virginia, established the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Association and decorated all the graves in the Confederate Cemetery. The Confederate Cemetery is assumed to be the first cemetery ever built for deceased soldiers in the South. On 5 May 1866, a Formal Memorial Day observation was held in Waterloo, New York. The celebration had marches, get-togethers, and children putting flowers on the graves which became a custom of the city. 

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Blue and Gray

A young lawyer (later well renowned and co-founder of Cornell University), Francis Miles Finch, was touched and inspired by the gestures provided to the loved ones and came up with a poem, 'The Blue and Gray.' This poem was published in Atlantic Monthly in September 1867. This particular poem was quite adored and became very famous, highly contributing to the movement of decorating the graves with flowers.

The Letter

In 1868 a veteran union soldier from Ohio sent a letter to Adjutant-General NP. Chipman of the Guard Army of the Republic, a Union veteran's organization. Through the letter, the soldier proposes an annual practice of honoring those who lost their lives in the Civil War by embellishing their graves and with appropriate ceremonies. Chipman then takes the proposal to General Logan, commander-in-chief of GAR. Consequently, on 5 May 1868, the commander ordered local posts of GAR to mark 30 May for the proposed event. Soon the No.11, Headquarters. Grand Army of the Republic, Washington, DC, proclaims that 30 May 1868 is designated for decorating the graves.

James A. Garfield (later to become the 20th US president) was the first speaker at the ceremony of the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. This was the first official observance of Memorial Day.

In 1873 Memorial Day was recognized as an official public holiday when the state of New York announced it as a legal holiday.

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