This Memorial Day, let us take time out from the cookouts and golf to remember those who gave their lives so that we can have cookouts and golf in relative freedom and security.
Originally called Decoration Day, it was originally intended to honor the dead of the Civil War. In 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (a Civil War veterans group) issued General Order 11:
The 30th 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 churchyard in the land.
The former Confederate States had instituted a Memorial Day in 1866. When the holiday was co-opted by the Grand Army, the southern holiday was changed to Confederate Memorial Day.
Michigan made Memorial Day an official holiday in 1871. By 1890, it was official in all of the northern states.
Following the Great War (World War I), the holiday became a day to remember the dead of every war in which the United States participated.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, passed by Congress in 1968 scheduled George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day on Mondays to create long weekends. It took effect in 1971. In 1978, Veterans Day was moved back to November 11.