Decorating the graves of loved-ones, soldiers, as well as the forgotten, has been observed for a huge number of years all over the world. Inside the U.S., the history of Decoration Day refers to two items: the origins of our modern day Memorial Day, as well as a existing holiday which is mostly recognized in the South.
Credit for the origins and the history of Decoration Day partially lie with a lot more than a dozen folks and communities, nevertheless it is indisputable that the roots of our existing Memorial Day came from the South’s Decoration Day. Even just before the Civil War, the Southern U.S. held a grassroots custom, or tradition, each and every spring as an event in several public and private circles to honor their deceased loved ones at their final resting places. Wikipedia states that it can be believed that the Decoration Day tradition “began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the ‘Memorial Day’ idea.” It was a lot more widely observed inside the South than equivalent traditions inside the Northern States. Then came the Civil War in which around 620,000 or 2% of our nation was killed.
Driven by the profound feelings that divided our nation, and promoted by several crucial individuals, Decoration Day began to draw a considerably larger following. It evolved to focus mostly on the graves of their Civil War dead. Sentiments in our country were definately intense, and in those handful of years, there began such a groundswell of support on a national level, that it was officially designated by General John A. Logan in May 1866 as an annual event that our nation needs to observe. His widow, in her autobiography indicated that the inspiration for his pronouncement originated from his admiration in the South’s tradition. She wrote that Gen. Logan stated, “it was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right.” The initial national celebration of Decoration Day took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers have been buried. Shortly thereafter, some Americans, including high officials inside the U.S. Government, began to refer to it as Memorial Day. Its focus, even though, nevertheless lingered on the Civil War. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs states, “By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation.”
Just after WWI, the federal government went further and declared the last Monday in May to be named Memorial Day as a day to honor all Americans that have died in military service for the USA and to decorate their graves. The newest official acts came in 1968 and in 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day a National Holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. Some Southern States, determined to keep Decoration Day alive, have continued to honor it for fallen Confederate Soldiers on an additional day, typically between April and June. In some states, that day is designated as Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate Decoration Day, Confederate Heroes Day, or Decoration Day. In several of those states and localities, public employees have the day off, and in others they do not. Apart from focusing mostly on Confederate war dead, several, nonetheless, also use that day to adorn the graves of any and all loved ones, or even entire graveyards. Furthermore, in several of those same communities, and some communities not even in the South, they set aside yet yet another day for the decoration of any graves in general.
A Reminder to Never Forget
Decoration Day nevertheless carries numerous levels of deep meaning to those who observe it distinctly from Memorial Day. For many Southerners, apart from just paying tribute for the fallen from the Civil War, Decoration Day is actually a reminder for future generations to never forget.
Regardless of whether it’s Memorial Day or Decoration Day, the tradition of decorating graves has now grown to be a respected part of the fabric of America. We at Yard To Table Gardens would also like to express our love and appreciation to those who came earlier than us, enabling us to live the fruits of their sacrifices.