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On Memorial Day, we remember the fallen

Memorial DayIn April and May of 1866, businesses closed, flags were at half-staff and Decoration Day or Memorial Day events for Civil War dead took place in numerous locations connected with the origins of Memorial Day. The Grand Army of the Republic established May 30 as Decoration Day in 1868, a day to decorate graves of Civil War dead with flowers, and state legislatures designated that date across the nation by 1900. After World War I, the day was expanded to include all who died in American wars, and in 1971, it became a national holiday and placed on the last Monday in May.

The National Cemetery Administration originated during the Civil War, and the US now has 147 national cemeteries. The VA administers 131; 14 are maintained by the Department of the Interior, and two – Arlington and Soldiers Home – are administered by the US Army. More than 3.7 million war dead and veterans from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan are buried on more than 19,000 acres.

Lincolns tombIllinois has seven national cemeteries:

  • Springfield: Camp Butler National Cemetery, 1862
  • Rock Island: Rock Island National Cemetery, 1863
  • Mound City: Mound City National Cemetery, 1864
  • Danville: Danville National Cemetery, 1898
  • Quincy: Quincy National Cemetery, 1899
  • Alton: Alton National Cemetery, 1948
  • Elwood: Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, 1999

And three Confederate cemeteries and plots in private cemeteries:

  • Rock Island: Rock Island Confederate, 1863
  • Chicago: Confederate Mound Oak Woods, 1866
  • Alton: North Alton Confederate, 1867

Does your family have relatives buried in one of our national cemeteries? You can search for them by cemetery, name, date of birth and date of death: gravelocator.cem.va.gov.

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. Armed Services Day is an occasion to honor those who are currently serving.

Learn more here: http://www.cem.va.gov/index.asp