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10 Facts about Memorial Day by Mind Map: 10 Facts about Memorial Day
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10 Facts about Memorial Day

It all began with the Civil War

In response to the (approx.) 620,000 lives lost on both sides

1864, Women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania place flowers on the graves of soldiers lost at the Battle of Gettysburg

1865, Women from Vicksburg, Mississippi repeat the process of decorating graves of fallen soldiers

1866, Women from Columbus, Mississippi lay flowers at both Union and Confederate soldier's graves., seen as an act of healing National wounds, 219 Civil War veterans march in Carbondale, Illinois to Woodlawn Cemetary, Major General John A. Logan gives address, Carbondale, Illinois is credited with the first community organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance, Waterloo, New York begins holding an annual community service on May 5, wins congressional recognition as the "Birthplace of Memorial Day"

General Logan makes it official


General Logan issues General Orders No. 11 from the Grand Army of the Republic (a Union veterans organization) on May 5, 1868, Designates May 39, 1868:, "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....", Also includes the indication that the observance should be:, "kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."

First known as Decoration Day

Stemming from the practice of "decorating" graves with flowers, flags, and wreaths

1882 sees the first appearance of "Memorial Day"

however.., the term Decoration Day doesn't fall out of favor until after World War II

Federal Law designates the "official" name of the holiday as Memorial Day in 1967.

The holiday is a franchise

Technically, Memorial Day is part of 11 "federal holidays" created by Congress

these holidays, technically, apply only to Federal Employees and the District of Columbia

Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allows Civil War veterans to honor fallen fellow soldiers without receiving a dock in pay.

Memorial Day holidays are enacted on a state-by-state basis.

New York first officially recognized Memorial Day as a legal holiday in 1873, most northern states had done the same by the 1890s., Many Southern states did not adopt an official recognition until after the first World War., by this time, the term Memorial Day had moved away from it's Civil War underpinnings and grown to include soldiers of all wars.


The Monday Holiday Law moves Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of the month

James Garfield's finest hour

May 30, 1868

President Ulysses S. Grant presides over first ever Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Historical tidbit: Prior to becoming the National Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery was Confederate General Robert E. Lee's plantation

The principal speaker at the event was future president James A. Garfield, "I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion.", "If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung."

The Tomb of the Known Soldier

November 11, 1921

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is established at Arlington National Cemetery, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

Memorial Day 1958

remains of unknown soliders from World War II and the Korean War are added to the tomb

November 28, 1984

Six bones of a Vietnam War solider are interned in the tomb


Sparked by a CBS News investigation, the defense department removes the bones of the Vietnam War solider for DNA testing, Solider is Air Force pilot Lr. Michael Joseph Blassie, The New York Times reports:, "The CBS investigation suggested that the military review board that had changed the designation on Lt. Blassie's remains to 'unknown' did so under pressure from veterans' groups to honor a casualty from the Vietnam War.", Blassie is now buried in St. Louis, Missouri and his crypt at Arlington remains permanently empty.

Rolling Thunder approaches Washington

Memorial Day 1988

2,500 motorcyclists descended on Washington, D.C. resulting in the first Rolling Thunder rally

The rally seeks to highlight Vietnam War soldiers that are still Missing In Action or are war prisoners


Organizers estimate that the rally participation has grown to over 300,000 bikers, many of them veterans.


Organizers estimate that participation has surpassed 500,000 participants

Customs included

Logan's General Orders No. 11 stated:

"in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed,"


Modern observance of the holiday dicates

The Flag, The Flag should fly at half staff until noon, After noon, the Flag should be restored to it's zenith, and lowered only at sunset

The Ceremony, Taps is played at all military funerals and memorial services, Historical Tidbit: Taps originated in 1862, when Union General Dan Butterfield, "grew tired of the 'lights out' call sounded at the end of each day," according to The Washington Post., A battery commander first ordered the playing of Taps in substitute for the traditional 3 volley firing of rifles over the grave., The Reason?, The battery was so close to enemy lines, he didn't want to incite further fighting by firing off three shots

The Red Poppy, "In Flanders Fields," by John McRae, World War I poem, 1915, Moina Michael begins campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for, "Keeping the faith will all who died.", The sale of these poppies has evolved to help support the work of the VFW

Grey Memorial Day

Several Southern States carry on the tradition of remembering fallen Confederate soliders

Confederate Memorial Day, Alabama, 4th Monday in April, Georgia, April 26, Louisiana, June 3, Mississippi, last Monday in April, North Carolina, May 10, South Carolina, May 10, Virginia, last Monday in May, Tennessee, Confederate Decoration Day, June 3, Texas, Confederate Heroes Day, January 19

Something New, Something Old

Although the holiday has it's roots in remembering those that died in Combat, it's become a weekend for much more

May 30, 1911, The first Indianapolis 500 motor race is held, Instigated by Indianapolis business man Carl Fisher, Ray Harroun was the first winner, average speed: 74.6 mph, race time: 6 hours and 42 minutes

May 30, 1922, The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated, Supreme Court Justice (and former President) William H. Taft dedicated the monument, In attendance:, 50,000 person crowd, albeit segregated, Union and Confederate veterans, Lincoln's surviving son Rober Todd Lincoln

2000, Congress established the "National Moment of Remembrance", Requests of individuals a pause for one minute at 3 p.m., as an act of national unity.