OUR MEMORIAL DAY

From Gen. John A. Logan’s General Order No. 11, establishing Memorial Day, May 5, 1868

The 30th day 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….

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.”  What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes?  Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms.  We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.  All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders.  Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds.  Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify…that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic…

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the nation’s gratitude—the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.