COLUMBUS, Ga. – One local man recently wrote a book that he says proves Memorial Day started in Columbus. Daniel Bellware co-authored The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday in America.
“The Ladies’ Memorial Association here in Columbus convinced people across the south, mostly women, to go out to the cemeteries on April 26th, 1866 and decorate graves,” Bellware said.
He says these women didn’t just decorate the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers.
“They also decorated Union graves at the same time and this story got back to the north and a lot of people saw it as act of reconciliation between the south and the north,” Bellware explained.
Bellware says there are 25 cities across the country that claim Memorial Day started in their town.
“General John Logan instituted a May 30th Memorial Day for the north in 1868, but everyone recognizes that he didn’t actually start it. It was well-known that it started somewhere in the south,” he said.
Women laid flowers on graves across the south 150 years ago, which Bellware says is the first Memorial Day.
“It was celebrated across the south on that day and then again in 1867 and again in 1868 and after the third time they did it in the south, Logan relented and put out a general order for the Grand Army of the Republic to have all their posts throughout the country decorate graves on May 30th,” Bellware said.
The book has more than 400 citations, mostly from newspapers, about the beginnings of Memorial Day.