Friday, May 23, 2014

History of Memorial Day - Gen. John A. Logan

Except from "Just Thoughts of a Plain Country Woman" by Lucile Ellingwood Morrow published in The Collinsville News, May 27, 1948.

"I have often wondered when and by .whom Memorial Day was originated and when I read that it was started in the South, I began to investigate, for I had always supposed it was originally northern custom.  I find that I was declared a national holiday on May 5, 1868, by General John A. Logan, Commander of the G. A. R..  May 30 "was for the greater part of the nation, to become the "Day of  Remembrance", a day to honor the dead, not the living nor the conquerors."
There are many legends, disputes, and a few facts as to the origin of the custom, and Carbondale, Ill., home of John A Logan, rightly claims the first honor.  Strange as it may seem, this story, too, is accepted as authentic.   

The southern women of Charleston, South Carolina, a Confederate state, were inspired by the deaths of northern men, union men to observe the first Memorial Day on the same day that Lincoln's body lay in state in Chicago. The tragic death of Lincoln, culminating four years of grief, death, and burials in both north and south, the slow progress of his funeral train from \Washington to the prairies of Illinois so crystalized the hysteria of a nation that when the proclamation to honor the dead came,  Memorial Day burst from the people, spontaneously. "

NOTE: Further research shows that "John Alexander Logan (February 9, 1826 – December 26, 1886) was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President of the United States with James G. Blaine in the election of 1884. As the 3rd Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, he is regarded as the most important figure in the movement to recognize Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) as an official holiday.  Source: