Today, Memorial Day, the Democratic Party of New Mexico joins our fellow Americans in commemorating the lives of those who have served in the cause of preserving the nation’s freedom. We pay honor to the fallen heros of every American conflict, from the fields of Lexington and Concord in 1775 to the mountain sides of Afghanistan. We honor the 2,800,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to their nation, and thank the forty-eight million Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces since 1775 until today.
On this day we join, as we should on every day, in honoring the sacrifices of those, in the words of President Lincoln, who have borne the battle, and for their families, for the cause of freedom for all of us. In that spirit we call on all Americans to come together to remember the men and women who gave their lives, in every conflict, so that we might continue to live free, and to strive for a just and lasting peace in our world.
Originally known as Decoration Day for the practice of leaving memorials at the grave sites of fallen soldiers, today’s national holiday was first observed by freed African Americans in the south at the end of spring, beginning in 1865, as a remembrance of the lives of the fallen liberators of the Civil War, both black and white, who had fought for and won emancipation. Newspaper accounts of those early annual events led General John Murray of Waterloo, New York to propose a national celebration of the lives of all fallen soldiers.
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, as leader of the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of Union Civil War veterans, issued G. A. R. General Order No. 11, establishing Decoration Day for the members, families and friends of the veterans organization. May 30, 1868 was chosen by General Logan because it was not the anniversary of a Civil War battle. By 1891 each of the northern states had established Memorial Day as a state holiday. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an Act of Congress, honoring the service of every soldier in every American military conflict.