Memorial Day Observance

By ASPPA Net Staff • May 26, 2017 • 0 Comments

We won’t be bringing you an ASPPA Connect newsletter on Monday due to the observance of Memorial Day, but we would like to share some little-known facts and background about the holiday.

One year after the Civil War ended, in April 1866:

  • women from Columbus, MS., laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers; and

  • 219 Civil War veterans marched through in Carbondale, IL in memory of the fallen to Woodlawn Cemetery. Union hero Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, delivered the principal address.

There are rival claims to where Memorial Day originated:

  • The 1866 Carbondale, IL ceremony gave rise to that community’s claim to having held the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance; but

  • Waterloo, NY held a ceremony for the first time on May 5, 1866 and every year thereafter.

  • The two rivals were connected by more than coincidence and subject matter: Gen. John Murray, who lived in Waterloo, was a friend of Gen. Logan; it has been suggested that their friendship was part of the reason Memorial Day took hold.

  • President Lyndon Johnson seems to have agreed with Waterloo, signing a presidential proclamation on May 26, 1966 naming Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

The first large federal observance occurred in Arlington, VA, at the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which federal troops seized in 1861. After the war, the estate became a cemetery to bury the nation’s war dead.

On May 30, 1868, then-Gen. (and future U.S. President) James A. Garfield addressed several thousand people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. “If silence is ever golden,” Garfield said, “it must be beside the graves of 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung.”

Red poppies became an emblem for Memorial Day because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the bloodiest battlefields and trenches of Flanders in World War I.

The American Automobile Association projects 35 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more on the Memorial Day weekend, with most traveling by car.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council notes that starting on Memorial Day, during the summer Americans will eat 818 hot dogs per second. That's just a few wieners short of 71 million in a day.

We’ll be back on Wednesday, May 31 with the next ASPPA Connect.