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An eNote
Don Anderson, Minister

Alvin Church of Christ



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Memorial Day
May 27, 2013


     fromDon Anderson


Memorial Day

Originally known as Decoration Day, what we now know as Memorial Day first originated during the Civil War as way to commemorate the Confederate soldiers who died in the War.


The first recorded history of any kind of such a celebration dates back to 1862 in Savannah, GA when southern women decorated the graves of their fallen neighbor’s sons.  In 1863, the cemetery in Gettysburg, PA conducted a similar commemoration on the graves of union soldiers.


In 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, there came a spirit of remorse and commemoration that overtook the nation.  Charleston, SC was the site of a Confederate POW camp.  Approximately 237 Union soldiers died while housed there.  In May of 1865, less than one month after Lincoln’s death, local teachers, missionaries and former black slaves in Charleston organized a May Day celebration to mark the graves of both Union and Confederate Soldiers that were buried in the cemetery with flowers.

They cleaned up and landscaped the burial grounds and marked the area as “Martyrs of the Race Course”, then welcomed nearly 10,000 people to the celebration of remembrance.


Professor of American History at Yale University and Director for the Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition,  

Dr. David W. Blight writes:

"This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”


In 1868, the date was first established as May 30th and although the celebration was independently observed in both the North and the South for years to come, it wasn’t until 1882 when the term “Memorial Day” was first utilized.  The widespread recognition of the observance did not become common until after WW II, and was not officially recognized as a Federal Holiday until 1967.


In 1968, Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day from their traditional dates to a specified Monday...in this case the last Monday of May.

The law took effect in 1971, but wasn’t recognized by all 50 states until almost 10 years later.


The VFW has been adamantly opposed to the change in the date since its first introduction.  In a 2002 Memorial Day address, its national leader declared, “Changing the date merely to create a three-day weekend has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”


Every year from 1987 until his death in 2012, Former Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a WW II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, introduced a bill to return Memorial Day to its traditional date of May 30th.


Memorial Day is officially a day of remembering those who died in the line of service on the battlefield.


It is often confused with Veterans Day, a day designated to recognize and honor those who are serving and those who did serve in the military, whether alive or passed on.


Today, we support those who are presently serving our country in the military around the world. 

We honor and personally “Thank” those who are still living who once served our country with dignity.

But we focus our hearts and minds on those who served and are no longer living.


Today, we intentionally chose to remember.

 We call-out the names of our personal “Honor Roll”...of those in our families who have served and are no longer living.  Some may have died in battle.  Others came home but have now gone on.

But they all gave of themselves so that others could enjoy the freedom we now have.


The dead shall never die as long as the living keep their memory alive.

Today we do just that...we keep their memory alive in order to show our sincere appreciation for their unselfish service and sacrifice to America.


May God Continue to Bless America!


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