On the blog today, welcome guest contributor, Samantha. Samantha is a media relations specialist for Caliber Collision. Today she’s sharing, General John A. Logan: The Man behind Memorial Day.
Few people think of Memorial Day as much more than a day off of work and a cookout. But, Memorial Day actually holds much more meaning. Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was established as a day to decorate Civil War soldiers’ graves with flowers. The first formal celebration was on May 30, 1968 and the name was legally changed to Memorial Day in 1967.
After World War I, Southern states joined in the celebration and Memorial Day honored the lives of soldiers killed in any American war. With the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, Memorial Day was moved from May 30th to the last Monday of May and this holds true today.
The Man behind Memorial Day
Known as the founder of Memorial Day, veteran John Alexander Logan worked tirelessly for military and veteran support. Envisioning a day set aside to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice was one of his goals.
The Early Years
Born in February 1826, General John A. Logan spent his formative years in Murphysboro, Illinois. He attended Louisville University School of Law in Louisville, Kentucky and spent a few years as a prosecuting attorney.
Honoring fallen soldiers was an issue close to his heart because he was a veteran himself. Logan served the 1st Illinois Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Mexican-American War. And, in the Civil War, he served as a general on the Union side. During the Civil War and for years after, Logan was a close confidant of General Ulysses S. Grant, who later became the 18th U.S. President.
Logan played a monumental role in the political world. He served Illinois as a state senator, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a U.S. Senator. In 1884, he ran unsuccessfully for Vice President. And, he was a presidential hopeful for the 1888 election. In his early political years, Logan was a Democrat. But after the Civil War, he switched to the Republican party and became a close ally of President Abraham Lincoln.
The legacy of General John A. Logan speaks for the magnitude of his life’s work. He is one of 33 people to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda following his death in December 1886. Many U.S. landmarks and cities have been named in his memory. There are statues in Logan Circle in Washington D.C. and Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. There’s a John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. And, there is a Logan County in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
Additionally, he is mentioned in the Illinois state song, “Illinois”, along with President Abraham Lincoln and President Ulysses S. Grant.
John A. Logan wore many hats in his lifetime…
- Military man, progressing up the ranks to General
- State Senator
- U.S. Congressman
- U.S. Senator
But, his legacy comes from his fight to give fallen soldiers the respect they deserve. For years, he fought to give every fallen American soldier honor and recognition. Because of Logan’s perseverance to start Memorial Day, Americans now have the chance to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Ways to Honor Our Military on Memorial Day
Honoring our military heroes can be as simple as placing a flag at a veteran’s grave or baking cookies for a family who has a spouse deployed. Your act of kindness does not have to be grand or glorious. Every gesture of goodwill makes a difference in the lives of those who fight for our freedom. As Americans, we should be willing to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Because without these brave souls, America would not be the beautiful country it is today.
Every Memorial Day we remember those who bravely gave their lives so we could live ours in freedom. These men and women are the reason America exists, and we should grant these military heroes the respect and remembrance they deserve. So at your Memorial Day event, gather your family and friends and explain the history and true meaning behind Memorial Day. And, remember our fallen soldiers and their families. Tell them the story of General John A. Logan, the man behind Memorial Day.
Samantha handles media relations for Caliber Collision and in her spare time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, baking and playing with her puppy, Emma. She likes to make a difference in her local community by volunteering at several organizations.
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