Memorial Day is Remember Day



General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

  1. 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 church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

  1. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
  2. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General



Today we celebrate Memorial Day, though celebrate may not be the best word. Remember—that’s more appropriate. Originally called Decoration Day, it was meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Though it has turned into the unofficial first weekend of summer and most of us spend it picnicking and boating and barbequing with friends and family, we shouldn’t lose sight of its meaning—its reason.

I propose today that we take a minute out of our day of boating, eating and celebrating, to do as President Clinton directed in 2000:

   “Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.

   “In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.

   “Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance (Program), to promote a “National Moment of Remembrance” to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day…”

–President William J. Clinton
Memorandum on the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance,May 2, 2000

So, at 3pm, whever you are, stop for a moment. Put down the hot dogs, the baseball bats, the sunscreen, and remember all those who sacrificed for us–both those in the past and those doing so right now–so we can enjoy our amazing freedoms and a fun summertime tradition.

Remember Memorial Day, all!

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9 thoughts on “Memorial Day is Remember Day”

  1. My heart always swells with pride and quite a bit of sadness each Memorial Day. I love seeing all the flags flying and to know that we live in the greatest nation in the world. But we didn’t get this way without sacrifice. And that’s the sad part. I always want to be grateful for those who fell while defending this country. I never want to take the advantage of living here for granted. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hallelujah!

  2. Amen indeed. Forever and Ever Amen. God bless America, the land that we love. Thank Him for those who keep us free, those who paid the ultimate price and those who are home again but maimed and suffering.

  3. I hope everyone took at least a few minutes of their time on Monday to remember not only the men and women who fought for our country paying the ultimate price, but to remember also their families who lost so very much. Their gift to a country who too often forgets.

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