Sunday, May 25, 2008

The First Memorial Day - Columbus, Georgia

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought I would pause our series on Spring Travel Destinations to share some information on the origin of our nation's Memorial Day tradition.

Although there are several claims to the contrary, the first Memorial Day was observed in Columbus, Georgia during the spring of 1866.

The ladies of the community, many having lost husbands, sons, fathers or brothers in the Civil War, wanted to create a day of remembrance to memorialize the sacrifices of those who died in service to the South. They met at the Tyler House in Columbus in March of 1866, less than one year after the end of the war, and formed a committee with the responsibility of hosting and promoting an annual Memorial Day.

The idea caught on and soon swept through other communities across the South. By the time General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (Union veterans) issued his General Order Number 11 proclaiming Memorial Day in 1868, observances had been underway across the South for two years. Even so, the national media generally credits Logan with originating the concept. In fact, though, he simply helped in the growth of an idea originated by the women of Columbus.

A monument to the first Memorial Day stands in downtown Columbus, marking the site of the Tyler House where the original committee held its meetings.
Memorial Day is now a day of remembrance for American servicemen who gave their lives in the line of duty. Although the holiday now often takes on a festive appearance with cookouts and trips to the beach, the true meaning is well worth remembering.
I hope you will join me in pausing tomorrow to remember the supreme sacrifice given by so many of our fellow citizens.
Have a safe Memorial Day.

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