Shortly after the Civil War, an organization called the Grand Army of the Republic was formed. Its purpose was to serve as an advocate for veterans of the Civil War, and is the forerunner of today’s veterans organizations such as the American Legion, the VFW, DAV, etc. General John Logan was the first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and on 5 May 1868, issued General Order Number 11 which served as the beginning of Memorial Day as we know it today. An excerpt from that General Order reads:
“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated 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. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”
Memorial Day has evolved into many things, but let’s remember its original purpose: to remember all those who have fallen in service to our country and who “now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
In accordance with Memorial Day protocols, the camp flag will be lowered to half-staff at sunrise on Monday, 31 May, in honor of those whom we remember on that day. The flag is then raised to full-staff staff at noon to symbolize our country’s ability to move forward because of their sacrifice.
So when you see the flag at half-staff on Monday, please take a moment to remember the men and women who “gave their lives that (our) nation might live,” and who “gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” (Abraham Lincoln, November, 1868).