Practical Politics

The politics of good recognitions

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 6/1/2017, midnight

Officially, the modern Memorial Day holiday is said to have originated with a May 5th field order (#11) issued in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, for the annual decoration of war graves. Calling it Decoration Day (similar to that in Charleston), it was to be a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30 either because by that date flowers would be in bloom all over the country, or because no known Civil War battles had been engaged on that date.

General Logan made clear that the purpose of the day was to remember those who had died fighting and to decorate, “the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

After WWI, the holiday was adjusted by Congress and President Lyndon Johnson to honor all Americans who had died fighting in any war, not just the Civil War. In 1971 with congressional approval of the National Holiday Act, it became a federal holiday to be celebrated annually on the last Monday in May. There are now 10 such national holidays.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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