Memorial Day is one of eleven calendar dates recognized by the government as a holiday. It is a day of recognition and mourning for those who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was originally called Decoration Day in honor of the Union soldiers who died during the Civil War.
The first observance of Memorial Day took place on May 30, 1868 with the issuing of General Order Number 11 by Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Logan was a General in the Union Army during the Civil War and would later become a politician (Illinois state Representative and U.S. Senator).
The 1968 celebration took place at Arlington National Cemetery.
General Order No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868*
i. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise 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 church-yard 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 cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. 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 no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. 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.
If other eyes grow dull, 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 to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a 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 lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
iii. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief
N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General
Official: WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
* Quoted from loganmuseum.org
To learn more about Logan, visit the Logan Museum at loganmuseum.org.
Memorial Day was observed locally for several years before it was officially recognized by the state of New York in 1872. Seventeen years later, Memorial Day was being observed by all the Union states. By the end of the century, Memorial Day activities were being held throughout the country.
In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday with a formal calendar date of the last Monday in May.
Memorial Day includes a National Moment of Remembrance. All Americans are encouraged to pause wherever they are at on May 30th at 3 p.m. for a minute of silence to remember and honor all U.S. soldiers who died serving their country. The National Moment of Remembrance was enacted by Congress in 2000.
There are many benefits for the spouses of veterans who died during wartime, including Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). The VA also has benefits for wartime veterans who are still living, such as Aid and Attendance. The Aid and Attendance benefit can help pay for long-term care, including home care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care.
To find out more about the Aid and Attendance benefit, contact one of our consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.