Southern women scattered spring flowers on graves of both northern Union and southern Confederate soldiers of the Civil War in which over a half-million died. Many places claimed to have held the original Memorial Day, such as:
- Warrenton, Virginia
- Columbus, Georgia
- Savannah, Georgia
- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Boalsburg, Pennsylvania
- Waterloo, New York
One such place was Charleston, South Carolina, where a mass grave was uncovered of 257 Union soldiers who had died in a prison camp. On May 1, 1865, former slaves organized a parade, led by 2,800 singing black children, and reburied the soldiers with honor as an act of reparation and gratitude for their ultimate sacrifice which gave slaves freedom.
In 1868, General John A. Logan, commander of the Civil War veterans’ organization “The Grand Army of the Republic,” called for a Decoration Day to be observed annually on May 30.
President James Garfield’s only executive order was in 1881…
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