Memorial Day, May 30, 2021(full size gallery)
From the National Cathedral service, 2017
Although the exact origins of Memorial Day are disputed, the first observance of Memorial Day is thought to have taken place in April 1865, when a group of former slaves gathered at a Charleston, SC horse track turned Confederate prison where more than 250 Union soldiers had died. The bodies of soldiers buried in a mass grave were reinterred in individual graves on the site. On May 1, 1865, some 10,000 black Charleston residents, white missionaries, teachers, schoolchildren and Union troops marched around the Planters’ Race Course, singing and carrying armfuls of roses.
In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the grand Army of the Republic—an organization of former soldiers and sailors—issued what was called General Order Number 11, designating May 30 as a memorial day. He declared it to be “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating 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.” The first national celebration of Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. The national observance of Memorial Day still takes place there today, with the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the decoration of each grave with a small American flag.
On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the president proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be held on the last Monday of every May. On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember the fallen, and honor all who have served our country, as we unite in prayer for permanent peace in the world