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WHO INVENTED MEMORIAL DAY?

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African American Memorial 1865
Freed slaves in Charleston, NC commemorate in 1865 the death of Union soldiers and the end of the American Civil War. 

Who Invented Memorial Day?

By Jim Downs, Huffington Post, May 26, 2013

Read this story in full as originally published on the web

As Americans enjoy the holiday weekend, does anyone know how Memorial Day originated? 

On May 1, 1865, freed slaves gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the death of Union soldiers and the end of the American Civil War. Three years later, General John Logan issued a special order that May 30, 1868 be observed as Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day — a day set aside “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.”

At the time, the nation was reunited politically, but it remained culturally divided, and so did Memorial Day observations. In the North, the federal government created national cemeteries for men who died in the war, while state governments from New York to Michigan gradually made Decoration Day an official holiday throughout the 1870s. In the South, from April to June, women dressed in white and knelt beneath statues of fallen Confederate leaders; they told stories about the men who appeared in portraits lining the walls of many Southern homes. By the early 20th century, as Americans faced enemies abroad, many of the surviving Civil War veterans recognized their shared wartime history and reconciled their differences — turning Memorial Day into a national holiday

© Jim Downs/Huffington Post

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