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General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

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Morning Dew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 08:30 AM
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General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868
Logans Order Mandating Memorial Day

The following is the entire text of General Order No. 11, mandating the creation of the first Memorial Day, May 30, 1868:

Headquarters Grand Army of the Republic

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. 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 church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

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 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 a 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 to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; 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 a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General

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dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 08:37 AM
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1. I did not know this info. Most interesting. Many thanks.
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Morning Dew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 08:42 AM
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2. Our town would do a Memorial Day ceremony every year when I was a child.
They'd have speeches and such and they always read this along with the Gettysburg Adress.

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hootinholler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. We had a parade with all the elementary school kids carrying flowers
We marched to the town cemetery and would find a grave to put them on. I can't recall speechifying and stuff, but lots of picnics and cookouts after.

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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 11:38 AM
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3. At 12 years old, my great-grandfather did reconnaissance for the Union Army
He had accompanied his father, an enlistee in the Union Army, just taggedc along after his mother died. My great-grandfather was wounded and suffered from his wound all his adult life.

I knew my great-grandfather. Every year he attended the Memorial Day celebration, but because he had not been a regular member of the Union Army had to stand in the back, unrecognized.

Of course, he outlived the regulars. I believe he was somehow recognized, perhaps posthumously.

All for the Union.
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Morning Dew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Great story!
Lots of people think the Civil War is ancient history. It's really not.

Your life was touched by someone who was there.

I knew my great grandfather as well. He was born less than two months after Custer died.

When you think about the oldest person you've ever known time compresses - the "distant past" isn't so far away.
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