The Old South
Southern Peace & Plenty
America, Land of the Free?
The Georgia General Assembly approved legislation adding "The 26th day of April in each year as a new public holiday---known as Memorial Day."
Until 1984, Georgia observed the following dates as official state holidays:
- January 1 (New Year's Day)
- January 19 (Lee's Birthday)
- Third Monday in February (Washington's Birthday)
- April 26 (Confederate Memorial Day)
- Last Monday in May (National Memorial Day)
- June 3 (Jefferson Davis's Birthday)
- July 4 (Independence Day)
- First Monday in September (Labor Day)
- Second Monday in October (Columbus Day)
- November 11 (Veterans' Day)
- Fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving)
- December 25 (Christmas Day)
The 1984 General Assembly changed state law with respect to public and legal holidays observed in Georgia. The new law (O.C.G.A. sec. 1-4-1) provides:
- (a) The State of Georgia shall recognize and observe as public and legal holidays:
(1) All days which have been designated as of January 1, 1984, as public and legal holidays by the federal government; and
(2) All other days designated and proclaimed by the Governor as public and legal holidays or as days of fasting and prayer or other religious observance. In such designation the Governor shall include at least one of the following dates: January 19, April 26, or June 3, or a suitable date in lieu thereof to commemorate the event or events now observed by such dates.
(b) The Governor shall close all state offices and facilities a minimum of 12 days throughout the year and not more than 12 days in observance of the public and legal holidays and other days set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section and shall specify the days state offices and facilities shall be closed for such observances.
Lest They Be Forgotten ...
From the May, 1893 issue of "Confederate Veteran," the Origin of Memorial Day
It is a matter of history that Mrs. Chas. J. Williams, of Columbus, Ga., instituted the beautiful custom of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers, a custom which has been adopted throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams was the daughter of Maj. John Howard, of Milledgeville, Ga., and was a superior woman. She married Maj. C. J. Williams on his return from the Mexican War. As colonel of the First Georgia Regulars, of the Army in Virginia, he contracted disease, from which he died in 1862, and was buried in Columbus, Ga.
Mrs. Williams and her little girl visited his grave every day, and often comforted themselves by wreathing it with flowers. While the mother sat abstractly thinking of the loved and lost one, the little one would pluck the weeds from the unmarked soldiers' graves near her father's and cover them with flowers, calling them her soldiers' graves.
After a short time while the dear little girl was summoned by the angels to join her father. The sorely bereaved mother then took charge of these unknown graves for the child's sake, and as she cared for them thought of the thousands of patriot graves throughout the South, far away from home and kindred, and in this way the plan was suggested to her of setting apart one day in each year, that love might pay tribute to valor throughout the Southern States. In March, 1868, she addressed a communication to the Columbus Times, an extract of which I give:
"We beg the assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the effort to set apart a certain day to be observed from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and to be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South, to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers, and we propose the 26th day of April as the day."
She then wrote to the Soldiers' Aid Societies in every Southern State, and they readily responded and reorganized under the name of Memorial Associations. She lived long enough to see her plan adopted all over the South, and in 1868 throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams died April 15, 1874, and was buried with military honors. On each returning Memorial Day the Columbus military march around her grave, and each deposits a floral offering.
The Legislature of Georgia, in 1866, set apart the 26th day of April as a legal holiday in obedience to her request. Would be that every Southern State observed the same day.