Memorial day- Created by Union Veterans

Sundial of the Woman's Relief Corp Monument at Andersonville National Historic Site

Sundial of the Woman’s Relief Corp Monument at Andersonville National Historic Site. Photo By Hugh Peacock

Hopefully this Memorial Day, you and your family have taken a moment to remember our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The idea of Memorial Day was born with the Civil War soldiers. Just three short years after the surrender of Confederate forces to theUnion; the idea of a national day of remembrance formed. In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic, a national Union veterans organization, much like the modern VFW or American Legion created memorial Day. The president of the GAR( Grand Army of the Republic), former Union General John A. Logan declared May 30 as Memorial Day. This would be a day to honor all the fallen soldiers by decorating the graves and holding memorial services.

Members of the GAR and its women’s auxiliary units such as the Woman’s Relief Corps┬ámade efforts to place American flags on the graves of the dead and invite orators to give speeches honoring the men and reminding the audience of the valor and sacrifice. At the recently created National Cemeteries across the country, such as Andersonville, Shiloh, Gettysburg and even Arlington, Americans gathered in their fine attire to pay their respects to those resting beneath the stones.

In the early twentieth century memorial day services often coincided with the dedication of state monuments on the nearby battlefields and at Andersonville Prison site. This gave the veterans a chance to reunite together to recognize their efforts in winning the war and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Many of the national cemeteries continue the tradition of memorial day services. These often include orators, flags, bands and a twenty-one gun salute.

Flag at half-mast at Andersonville National Cemetery, Anderonsville, GA

Flag at half-mast at Andersonville National Cemetery, Anderonsville, GA

While cruising the lake or grilling your stop and take a moment to remember our fallen soldiers, sailors and marines. Remove your cap, bow your head and pay respect to those who gave their lives for our nation.

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