1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Memorial Day

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25962551911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 18 — Memorial Day

MEMORIAL DAY (or Decoration Day), a holiday observed in the northern states of the United States on the 30th of May, in honour of soldiers killed in the American Civil War, and especially for the decoration of their graves with flags and flowers. Before the close of the Civil War the 30th of May was thus celebrated in several of the southern states; in the North there was no fixed day commonly celebrated until 1868, when (on the 5th of May) Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a general order designating the 30th of May 1868 “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”; Logan did this “with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year.” In 1882 the Grand Army urged that the “proper designation of May 30 is Memorial Day”—not Decoration Day. Rhode Island made it a legal holiday in 1874, Vermont in 1876, and New Hampshire in 1877; and by 1910 it was a legal holiday in all the states and territories save Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. In Virginia the 30th of May is observed as a Confederate Memorial Day. The 3rd of June (the birthday of Jefferson Davis) is observed as Confederate Memorial Day in Louisiana and Tennessee; the 26th of April in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi; and the 10th of May in North Carolina and South Carolina.