b'Arlington National CemeterySection 12 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 29, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)Memorial Day History One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because The Grand Army of the Republic they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, Established Decoration Daythe women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.Memorial Day History Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, theof Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim head of an organization of Union veteransthe Grand Army ofthe title, as well as Richmond, Va. the Republic (GAR)established Decoration Day as a time forThe village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the state-Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day shouldment that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosenApril 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan.because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with The first large observance was held that year at Arlingtonthe origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington,most of the war dead were buried.D.C. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-drapedOfficial Birthplace Declaredveranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen.Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. andLyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored After speeches, children from the Soldiers and Sailorslocal veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their wayclosed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union andWaterloos claim say earlier observances in other places were Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.Local observances claim the event was the first springtime By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies tributes to the Civil War dead. Even though other observanceswere being held on May 30 throughout the nation. Statealready had been held in various places.legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the 6 Military Appreciation Resource Magazine HApril 2021H Thank You For Your Service'