Devotion for Week of May 28, 2012 - HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY

History Of Memorial Day

Exodus 12:14, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”

Confederate Memorial Day is observed in quite a few parts of southern USA to commemorate those brave soldiers who gave their lives while fighting for the Confederacy.  The 9 states that mark this day officially, albeit on different dates, are Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi.  It is also known by slightly different names in Texas and Tennessee as Confederate Heroes Day and Confederate Decoration Day respectively.

History of the Confederate Memorial Day
The history of this day begins in 1862 when a widow of a fallen Confederate soldier began her travel to the grave of her husband.  Mrs. Chas J. Williams, daughter of Major John Howard and wife of Major C.J. Williams has found a permanent place in Confederate history for her actions.  Her daughter was said to have placed flowers and weeds on the graves of the soldiers which were unmarked otherwise. Sadly, her daughter too died a premature death and Mrs. Williams wrote to the Soldiers Aid Societies in all southern states to organize Memorial Associations.  Such was her contribution to the history of the Confederate Memorial Day that when she died in 1874, she was buried with full military honors.

Beginning of Government Recognition of the Day
In the year 1874, legislation was passed by the General Assembly of Georgia to mark the 26 April as Memorial Day.  This date was chosen because it happened to be the birth day of General Joseph E. Johnston.  General Johnston brought about the end of the war when he was forced to surrender by circumstances beyond his control in the state of North Carolina.

Choice of Different Dates of Confederate Memorial Day
From there, the marking of this day with memorial observances and state holidays spread to Atlanta, Alabama, Mississippi and so on.  Different dates were chosen by the different states too.  North and South Carolina chose the 10th of May to mark Confederate Memorial Day for this is the anniversary of Jefferson Davis’s capture.  Jefferson Davis’s birthday, 3rd of June is chosen by Louisiana and Tennessee.  Texas has chosen General Robert E. Lee’s birthday, 19th of January to mark Confederate Heroes Day.

The Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in all the states that observe it. Schools and state offices are closed to give people a chance to mark the day with the honor and recognition it deserves.

From the time it was referred to as Decoration Day to today, Confederate Memorial Day has been marked by people paying homage to the martyred soldiers in different ways – visiting cemeteries, holding memorial services, gathering with family and friends to conduct observances and even parades.

On this Memorial Day let us remember all our brave military from whatever war they served in and thank them for their contribution to keep us free.  Let us also remember Calvary as a Memorial to Jesus Christ who gave all He had so we could be set free and saved.

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