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History of Memorial Day:
Learn about it here.
Anderson (mail):
Interesting, thanks.

The news that it officially began with the decoration of Union *and* Confederate graves, makes "Confederate Memorial Day" even more obnoxious than I'd previously thought.
5.25.2009 12:21pm
wm13:
Well, some people are evidently not imbued with the spirit of "Love and tears for the Blue/Tears and love for the Grey."
5.25.2009 12:48pm
MarkField (mail):

The news that it officially began with the decoration of Union *and* Confederate graves, makes "Confederate Memorial Day" even more obnoxious than I'd previously thought.


What I got from the cite was what I already understood: that while memorials to war dead were common North and South, Memorial Day itself was seen as a specifically Union day of remembrance. In fact, the long refusal of southerners to recognize the day is itself both revealing and disturbing.
5.25.2009 1:04pm
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
2 years ago I drove with some friends to a Memorial Day weekend barbecue in Penna., which involved driving on a portion of US route 6 called Grand Army of the Republic Highway. I wondered how it got that name, and when I researched it and what it was named for I discovered the synchronicity of our having been on it that day.
5.25.2009 2:01pm
non-native speaker:
The web's French and Spanish versions are terrible.
5.25.2009 2:10pm
Fub:
Thanks for posting this. I recall from childhood disabled veterans selling paper mache poppies. Some of my schoolteachers had been young adults during WWI, "The Great War". We learned "In Flanders Fields". Arlington National Cemetery website displays it. It's short and worth repeating here.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
5.25.2009 5:52pm
SocratesAbroad (mail):

The news that it officially began with the decoration of Union *and* Confederate graves, makes "Confederate Memorial Day" even more obnoxious than I'd previously thought.

No, "obnoxious" would be making condescending pronouncements while remaining woefully ignorant of the facts. Confederate Memorial Day preceded the national holiday and, despite the latter's origin (more on this below), in some instances honor was even shown to the victors as well.
Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War's end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina all had precedents for Memorial Day.
...
When a women's memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers on April 25, 1866, this act of generosity and reconciliation prompted an editorial piece, published by Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, and a poem by Francis Miles Finch, "The Blue and the Grey," published in the Atlantic Monthly. The practice of strewing flowers on soldiers' graves soon became popular throughout the reunited nation.



What I got from the cite was what I already understood: that while memorials to war dead were common North and South, Memorial Day itself was seen as a specifically Union day of remembrance. In fact, the long refusal of southerners to recognize the day is itself both revealing and disturbing.

What is "revealing and disturbing" is how easy some find it to slight the South without grounds.
A holiday is initiated by a Union veterans' group to honor those who fell in preserving the Union. Is it any wonder, so soon after the conflict, that Southerners might wish to continue celebrating their war dead (keeping in mind that the Confederate holiday preceded its national, and thus Union, counterpart) in another manner?
Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day. It was a day set aside for us to honor those who died preserving the Union in the Civil War.
What is known is this: Memorial Day, then known as Decoration Day, officially began after the Civil War to honor soldiers killed during the war. The first national observance was not a government initiative, but rather the work of a veterans' organization, The Grand Army of the Republic. That organization's commander-in-chief, General John Logan, signed a proclamation on May 5, 1868, declaring May 30, 1868, a national day of remembrance to be held on May 30th, a date chosen because it was not the anniversary of any single battle.
5.25.2009 6:13pm
Anderson (mail):
Meanwhile, I see that Ilya has a post praising veterans and servicemembers in general, presumably falling under James Joyner's strictures regarding those who do not understand that Memorial Day is for remebering fallen soldiers. Presumably, most of those whom Prof. Somin addresses would prefer not to become subjects of any properly-directed Memorial Day observance.
5.25.2009 6:44pm
Anderson (mail):
What is "revealing and disturbing" is how easy some find it to slight the South without grounds.

Grounds are seldom lacking to slight the traitors of the Confederacy.
5.25.2009 6:46pm
MarkField (mail):

What is "revealing and disturbing" is how easy some find it to slight the South without grounds.


What Anderson said. And they fought to defend slavery. Traitors in defense of slavery -- now there's a combination for the ages.

Just to avoid the inevitable responses, I'm NOT talking here about ordinary Confederate soldiers, but about "the South" as a formal entity.


Is it any wonder, so soon after the conflict, that Southerners might wish to continue celebrating their war dead (keeping in mind that the Confederate holiday preceded its national, and thus Union, counterpart) in another manner?


It's no wonder to me that people who weren't loyal to the Union would "prefer" not to remember those who fought to preserve it.
5.25.2009 6:55pm
Russ (mail):
On a more sober note in keeping in the tradition of what this day is truly about, I'd like to thank my friends Larry Bauguess, Jay Harting, Jason Patton, Doug LeBouef, and Brandon Rowe. I will never be able to express enough my thanks for what you've given my family and I with your sacrifice. I'll see you one day at the rally point on the other side of the Pearly Gates.
5.25.2009 6:57pm
Albatross (mail) (www):
MarkField said:


What Anderson said. And they fought to defend slavery. Traitors in defense of slavery -- now there's a combination for the ages.

Just to avoid the inevitable responses, I'm NOT talking here about ordinary Confederate soldiers, but about "the South" as a formal entity.



You do realize that, nowadays, people who live in the South aren't actually part "the South" that fought the Civil War, don't you?

Just checking.
5.25.2009 7:51pm
MarkField (mail):

You do realize that, nowadays, people who live in the South aren't actually part "the South" that fought the Civil War, don't you?

Just checking.


Since this whole thread is about the historical origins of Memorial Day, I thought that was pretty clear.
5.25.2009 7:54pm
Albatross (mail) (www):
As I said, just checking.
5.25.2009 8:06pm
Anderson (mail):
You do realize that, nowadays, people who live in the South aren't actually part of "the South" that fought the Civil War, don't you?

Down here in Mississippi, I can say that not everyone is entirely clear about that distinction.
5.25.2009 11:03pm
SocratesAbroad (mail):

Grounds are seldom lacking to slight the traitors of the Confederacy.

For the sake of civility, I'll assume that you are truly unaware of how foolish that statement is. Or are you so ill-informed of this country's founding by individuals similarly branded as traitors?


What Anderson said. And they fought to defend slavery. Traitors in defense of slavery -- now there's a combination for the ages.

With the supposed sting of "traitor" fully removed, the charge of "slaver" can then be dealt with.

As odious as much of the old South is to modern attitudes, it had the approval of history. The Spartan, Athenian, and Roman republics -- the principal examples available to the Founders -- all were built on essentially the same social and economic model, with a mass of slaves at the bottom.
Indeed, the very fact of slavery among them made the Southern men more zealous about protecting liberty. Edmund Burke, looking to the Southern colonies, guessed it right in 1775, answering the question that puzzled so many Englishmen: Why the love of liberty was so strong among those who held slaves.
Where this is the case in any part of the world, those who are free are by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and privilege. Not seeing there, that freedom, as in countries where it is a common blessing and as broad and general as the air, may be united with much abject toil, with great misery, with all the exterior of servitude; liberty looks, amongst them, like something that is more noble and liberal.
5.26.2009 2:50am
BGates:
Traitors in defense of slavery

That's the Code Pink motto, isn't it?

It's nice to see you guys get so fired up about a war the US won 144 years ago; but then, I guess unity has been a virtue for over 100 days now.
5.26.2009 3:09am
David M. Nieporent (www):
For the sake of civility, I'll assume that you are truly unaware of how foolish that statement is. Or are you so ill-informed of this country's founding by individuals similarly branded as traitors?
They weren't "branded as" traitors; they were traitors. The difference is that they were traitors to England (and since we're not English, why would we care?), whereas the Confederates were traitors to the United States (and since we are Americans, we take offense).
5.26.2009 1:55pm

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