(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Amazing, as it might seem, no one seems to know when the first national Memorial Day occurred. During the Civil War up until the 1960’s it was called “Decoration Day” because people would bring flowers and other remembrances to gravesides as forms of decoration.

Among those vying for the honor of the first Memorial Day ceremony include the placing of flowers on graves in Gettysburg first held in 1863. There were some women in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania who began placing flowers on soldier’s graves on Independence Day in 1864.

In 1861 groups of Confederate women in South Carolina placed flowers on graves. Other cities claiming the first Memorial Day include Savanna, Georgia and Warrenton, Virginia.

The Modern Memorial Day

We do have a date and person to give credit to for the first Memorial Day. Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York decorated graves of fallen soldiers at three local cemeteries. News of Welles efforts reached Gen. John Alexander Logan who made it a national day of remembrance first observed on May 30, 1868.

Nearly one hundred years later no less than President Lyndon B Johnson signed a proclamation giving the credit to Welles for creating what is now called Memorial Day in 1965.

Memorial Day Words to Remember

"Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the great sacrifices that the men and women of the armed services make to defend our way of life." -- Robin Hayes

"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor." – Aristotle

"A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers and woods, it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle." -- George William Curtis

"True patriotism isn't cheap. It's about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going." -- Robert Reich

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." - George Washington

"If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen." - Ronald Reagan

"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."- Clarence Darrow

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain." - George McGovern

"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be." - Socrates

Some Final Thoughts

Setting aside a single day of remembrance to those who gave the supreme sacrifice would seem to be completely inadequate for the friends and families of those lost. But to just accept their loss, without acknowledgement, would be just as unconscionable.

So on this special day we mourn, we cry, we remember, and we appreciate the time those lost were with us. Life can change in an instant. We can’t foresee the future so we must reflect on the past and those who passed through our lives.

There are no words to ease the pain, only memories to keep those close in our hearts. It’s a day to remember.

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