Historian: Memorial Day rooted in South

Published: May 24, 2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., May 24 (UPI) — A historian from Indiana’s Purdue University says the origins of Memorial Day come from the fallout in the South from the Civil War.

Purdue assistant professor of history Caroline E. Janney said in a news release from the university the U.S. federal holiday was the result of the efforts by thousands of women in the South to honor Confederate soldiers.

"Credit really goes to thousands of Southern white women who were honoring Confederate soldiers a year after the Civil War ended," Janney said. "The women led these celebrations because if Confederate men would have organized memorials in 1866, just after the war ended, their actions would have been considered treason."

Janney said such historic events, which were also used to criticize the post-war government, evolved into Memorial Day events orchestrated by Ladies’ Memorial Associations starting in 1866.

"People should have a better understanding about the origins of Memorial Day because the Civil War secured the Union and freed 4 million slaves," said Janney, who wrote "Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause."

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