American Wars: US Casualties and Veterans website.
From Civil War to Civility
"If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other ears cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us." -- General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), General John Logan. The GAR was founded to honor discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the Revenue Cutter Service who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865. You can review the full GAR Order No. 11, 5 May 1868 at the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) website. Among our many ancestors, five American Presidents were GAR members - Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley.
- Memorial Day was first observed on 30 May 1868 with flowers placed on the soldiers' graves at Arlington National Cemetery.
- By 1890 Memorial Day was recognized by all of the northern states.
- After World War I, southerners joined in honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
- The National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) officially recognized Memorial Day.
- Several southern states still have a separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.