Memorial Day Has Illinois Roots

Memorial Day Has Illinois Roots

The national holiday of Memorial Day has Illinois roots.

Decoration Day was first observed in 1866, the year after the end of the Civil War, when widows and other placed flowers on the graves of those who died in the war. Gen. John A. Logan, who served in the war and who also held various political offices in Illinois both before the war (as a Democrat) and after the war (as a Republican) was the speaker at one of the first ceremonies, in Carbondale.

Two years later, Logan was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans organization for Union soldiers, and he issued an order establishing Decoration Day – possibly because his wife told him to, says Michael Jones, director of the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro.

“I believe that Logan came into the Memorial Day story because of his experience in Carbondale, and because of what his wife said, that he issued General Order No. 11, which would make Memorial Day a national holiday,” he said.

The day of May 30 was selected because of the availability of spring flowers with which to decorate the graves. Decoration Day is now Memorial Day, and it’s a Monday holiday instead of May 30.


Recent Headlines

in Local

Opponents Upset Chief Illiniwek Merchandise Still Available Online

u of i urbana

Assistant Athletic Director Marty Kaufmann says the items are available because there wasn't "any edict to wipe all history or tradition from our books."

in Local

Lisa Madigan Calls for More Compassion Towards Victims of Sex Crimes

Lisa Madigan

The state's Attorney General says a shift in attitude toward victims of rape, sexual assault, and other such crimes will lead toward more of these crimes being reported.

in Local

Arrest Made in the Murder of a Former Pleasant Plains Woman

kendra hatcher

One suspect is in jail and another is being sought in the murder of a former Springfield area woman.

in Local

Alleged Improprieties Force Out Two Parole Board Members

wtax 011015

Two members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board have been removed in the wake of published reports of erroneous filings with the state and the federal government.

in Local

Rauner Addresses Concerns of State’s University Presidents


The Governor was in Urbana Friday to address the concerns of nine presidents over universities in Illinois.