By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
In the park, now commonly known as Four Freedoms Park, an old-timer looks out and surveys visitors to the serene park, as well as traffic along the highway. He is an old Confederate solder, nicknamed by many “the General.”
The monument itself has a rich and storied history, being the first monument ever put in the park that bore the name Confederate Memorial Park,
Memorial Day has deep roots in Confederate Memorial Day. In 1866, southern states began celebrating their own memorial days, with dates ranging from April 26 to the middle of June. By 1916, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America, became a holiday in 10 southern states.
The earliest observances of Confederate Memorial Day were somber as veterans and their families marked the occasion and remembered those who had fallen. The War Between the States was the costliest in history as far as American lives were concerned. But who can put a cost on a human life?
In 1868, flowers were placed on the graves of both Confederate and Union dead at Arlington National Cemetery.
According to the web site www.usmemorialday.org: “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890, it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.”
The General will be looking down from his perch on Monday, May 30, as Memorial Day is observed at the Four Freedoms Gazebo in the park in Madison. George Willis, a World War II veteran, will be the speaker. The observance will begin at 11 a.m.
Memorial Day Observance Set For Monday
By Jacob Bembry