THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY

This Year (2018) Marks the 150th Annual Memorial Day

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HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

GENERAL ORDERS 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 our country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in

          almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observence 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 freedon to a race in chains, and their

          deaths the tatotoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilence. 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, our 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

           dis-honor; 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 observence with that 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                              N.P. Chipman                         Wm. T. Collins, 

             Commander-in-Chief                  Adjutant General                   Assistant Adjustant General