Contact the GG Archives

Anderson, SC USA

How Memorial Day Began

The first Memorial Day was held May 30, 1868, three years after the close of the Civil War.

A society had been formed by many of the soldiers who had fought for the Union during this war. This society was called the Grand Army of the Republic.

General John A. Logan was chosen as the head of the G. A. R. He sent out an order for the first Memorial Day to the members of the G.A.R. in all parts of the country. Afterwards in the different states, Memorial Day was made a legal holiday.

It is said that a German soldier in the Union army first suggested Memorial Day. He wrote a letter to one of General Logan’s officers, telling him of the custom in Germany of decorating the soldiers’ graves every spring.

He thought it would be a good idea to have this beautiful custom in America. General Logan also thought this a beautiful way to honor the dead; so he issued the order for the first Memorial Day.

Return to Top of Page

Military Special Observances
GG Archives

Military Observances Topics

The Folks Behind the GG Archives

The GG Archives is the work and passion of two people, Paul Gjenvick, a professional archivist, and Evelyne Gjenvick, a curator. Paul earned a Masters of Archival Studies - a terminal degree from Clayton State University in Georgia, where he studied under renowned archivist Richard Pearce-Moses. Our research into the RMS Laconia and SS Bergensfjord, the ships that brought two members of the Gjønvik family from Norway to the United States in the early 20th century, has helped us design our site for other genealogists. The extent of original materials at the GG Archives can be very beneficial when researching your family's migration from Europe.