A National Memorial Day

Democratic Thinker, Memorial Day

In 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic issues General Orders No. 11 designating May 30 “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defence of their country,” and again in 1869, General Orders No. 21—the National Memorial Day.

The two orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, dated May 5, 1868, and April 12, 1869, indicate in an unassuming manner who originated the idea of a National Day of Mourning over the graves of the slumbering patriots, and under whose auspices their floral decoration has hitherto taken place.—E.F.M. Faehtz, The National Memorial Day (1870).

Headquarters Grand Army Of The Republic.
Adjutant General’s Office, 410 Fourteenth Street,

General Orders,}Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868.
No. 11.

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 defence of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard 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 death 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 and 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 springtime; 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 call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department Commanders will use every effort 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.



Headquarters Grand Army Of The Republic.
Adjutant General’s Office, 410 Fourteenth Street,

General Orders,}Washington, D.C., April 12, 1869.
No. 21.

I. The 30th day of May, promixo—a day set apart by the Grand Army of the Republic to commemorate the glorious deeds of our departed comrades—will be observed throughout the United States in such manner as befits the solemnities of the occasion, and as will testify the undying love of a grateful people for the memory of those who died that the nation might live.

This is the second public observance of the occasion, which it is trusted will recur yearly while there remains a heart loyal to the cause in which our comrades fell, and while the moving principle of that struggle is worth preserving. If our organization had no other object, that alone of keeping green the resting-places of our nation’s defenders, by this annual commemoration, would be motive enough to hold us together in a fraternal band.

The Commander-in-Chief desires to thank those patriotic men and women who gave their aid and sympathy on a former occasion to make successful this National Memorial Day, and they are cordially invited to unite with the comrades of the Grand Army in the approaching ceremonies; and he thanks the loyal press everywhere, through whose generous aid a lasting record has been made of the observances one year ago. To the Congress of the United States the comrades are specially indebted for authorizing the publication, in book form, of the proceedings of last May, and for the promise held out that each year a compilation will be made and published, as a national recognition of sympathy with these memorial observances.

II. It has been determined not to prescribe any form of ceremony for universal observance, but each post, or any number of posts, may arrange together such fitting services as circumstances will permit. Department commanders will use every effort to perfect arrangements for the occasion. The newspaper press are requested to give publication to this order.

III. Department and post commanders are specially enjoined to preserve and forward to these headquarters a copy of the proceedings (in printed form, as far as possible) which take place in carrying out this order.

IV. As the 30th of May occurs on Sabbath, posts are at liberty to observe either that day, or Saturday, the 29th.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,

Commander-in-Chief.

N. P. CHIPMAN,

Adjutant-General.

Official:

WM. T. COLLINS, A. A. G.

Contributed by Democratic Thinker.