It’s likely it had many separate starts. Many towns planned spontaneous gatherings to honor their war dead in the 1860’s. General Logan officially proclaimed the day in 1868. It was a “coming together to honor those who gave their all”.
General Logan was national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He proclaimed the day would be observed on May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873 and by 1890 it was observed by all of the northern states.
The South honored their war dead on separate days until after World War I. At that time the holiday not only covered Civil War dead, but those who died in all our country’s wars.
Today, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. Though several Southern states still have a separate day to honor Confederate war dead.
In 1915, a poem by Moina Michael called “In Flanders Fields”, was inspired by this American holiday.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
This Memorial Day, be sure to take time out to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.