His name was Major General John A. Logan and he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 5, 1868 he wrote General Orders No. 11 which established Decoration Day and begins:
“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
The first large observance of Decoration Day that year was at Arlington
National Cemetery to honor those that died in the Civil War.
In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday for remembering all
veterans who lost their lives in American wars. To correspond with other
Federal holidays the day of celebration was changed to the last Monday in May.
This year  the last Monday in May also happens to be the 30th of May.
Following is a link to the Department of Veterans Affairs, November 2010, summary of soldiers that have lost their lives in America’s wars from the American Revolution through 1991. A total of 42 million served in the U.S. military during that period with 651,031 battle deaths, an additional 308,800 deaths while in Theater [in war zone] and 230,254 other deaths while in service, non-Theater. This listing is in pdf so please download a free Adobe pdf reader if you do not have one installed on your computer. Adobe Reader Download
Individual casualty totals from the Global War on Terrorism, [Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn] beginning October 7, 2001 (with no end in site). The data listed is through May 23, 2011.
The National Moment of Remembrance Act, P.L. 106-579, was passed by Congress and signed by President William J. Clinton. The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs
© 2011 Patricia L Johnson