AS we celebrate Memorial Day, but how many people know anything about it? I wonder how many people who are younger than me (I’m in my late 50s.) know that it used to be known as Decoration Day.

The legend goes that in 1866 a group of women from Columbus, Mississippi, went to the local cemetery to decorate Confederate graves. They noticed some graves in the corner of the cemetery that were unadorned. After they placed flowers on those markers, someone pointed out that those were Yankee graves. One of the women responded “We are sure there are mothers, sister, wives, or sweethearts who are mourning these dead men, so we are going to honor them also.”

Is the story true? Who knows?

What is known is that on May 5, 1868, General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued general Order #11 to establish Decoration Day.

On May 30, 1868, General James A Garfield gave the first Decoration Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery.