Summary: I would propose to you that it is not important who was the very first to celebrate "Memorial Day". What is important is that Memorial Day was established.
A Day for Remembrance: Memorial Day Message (15 Minutes)
Introduction: Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of "Memorial Day." There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).
Proposition: I would propose to you that it is not important who was the very first to celebrate "Memorial Day". What is important is that Memorial Day was established. "Memorial Day" is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
Interrogative Sentence: What do we know about "Memorial Day?" 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. It 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. It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday of May.
In 1915, Moina Michael wrote a poem "In Flanders Fields," "We Cherish too, the Poppy Red… That grows on fields where valor led… It seems to signal to the skies… that blood of heroes never die.
She then conceived the idea to wear red poppies on "Memorial Day" in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France, she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before "Memorial Day" in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
Transitional Sentence: Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans today have forgotten the meaning and traditions of "Memorial Day." At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades.