On May 5, 1868 General John Logan issued General Order #11. General Orders #11 designated the first official Memorial Day on May 30, 1868.
In General Orders #11 General Logan states the following:
"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 his honor; 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."
In 1968 Memorial Day was changed from May 30th to the last Monday in May.
Memorial Day is to honor all the soldiers who gave their lives defending our rights and freedoms as Americans.
"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." -John A. Logan
So May 31, 2010 we remember the over 1.3 million Americans that gave their lives defending us. We do this by placing flags to watch over their graves.
We lower the American Flag to half staff from sunrise until noon.
"I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did." -Benjamin Harrison
We also build permanent memorials to those loved ones who fought for our country.
So this Memorial Day let us remember those who fought and died for the United States of America. Even those whose name is not known.
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." -John F. Kennedy
"For love of country they accepted death..." -James A. Garfield
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." — General George S. Patton
"These heroes are dead. They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead." — Robert G. Ingersoll