I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Macon County Commissioners

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County Board of County Commissioners.

Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Coverage of the meetings of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen.

Macon County School Board

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County School Board.


Photos from my photoblog.

Nothing is here yet

I haven't decided what to put here yet, so look at this pretty photo.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Public Education -- Reform or Decline?
Panel Discussion hosted by the League of Women Voters

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The Macon County League of Women Voters hosted a panel discussion entitled "Public Education in North Carolina -- Reform or Decline?"
Susan Ervin, the President of the local League of Women Voters, moderated the panel.

Panelists included:

Chris Baldwin - Superintendent of Macon County Schools

Gary Brown - Iotla Valley Elementary Principal

Stephanie Laseter - Parent

Melissa Faetz - Region 8 Teacher of the Year

Tyler Faetz –Franklin High School AP English teacher

John deVille - NCAE local representative

The panelists discussed how budget cuts and their affect on local schools. They also discussed education standards, class size teacher presence and the needs of students. Local elected officials were also allowed to make a brief statement and several members of the audience also added to the discussion. The meeting lasted a little over two hours.

Here is the full video of the panel discussion:

Susan Ervin announced that the next two meetings of the board would be focused on upcoming elections. On September 11th at noon, a forum featuring NC Senator Jim Davis and his opponent Jane Hipps will take place. On October 8th at noon, a forum for candidates for County Commissioner will take place.

Everyone is encouraged to attend these meetings to hear where the candidates stand on the issues.


I'm still trying to raise money to take this thing to the next level. Visit my Patreon page to find out more at 

Franklin Main Street Board Called Meeting 08-19-2014

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The Franklin Main Street Board held a called meeting to hear from Liz Parham, the Director of the Office of Urban Development, on what a successful Main Street Program is supposed to be doing.

This was the first Main Street Program meeting that I have covered because I have been told in the past that this board is not subject to open meeting laws and I was not welcome to record the meetings. This information was backed up by the town attorney, so I didn't bother. If you want more back story on this watch this video to hear what some of the merchants have been saying about the Main Street Board.

Linda Schlott, the previous Director of the Franklin Main Street Program, retired from her position and the job was split into two part time jobs, one of a Festival Coordinator, and the other of the Director of the Main Street Program. The former Director of the Main Street Program and is currently the festival coordinator for the town. Tony Angel is the new part time director of the program.

The meeting was almost three hours long, so I split it into three videos for easier processing and viewing.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I have increased the audio of the last video because one of the board members would not speak loud enough to be heard.


I'm still trying to raise money to take this thing to the next level. Visit my Patreon page to find out more at 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NCACC Members Tour Macon County

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This past Thursday, county commissioners from across North Carolina toured Macon County as part of an activity during the annual convention of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners [NCACC] in Asheville, NC. Commissioner Beale was inducted as the President of the organization on Saturday night.

So, here is coverage of the tour presented in video excerpts at the various stops during the day.

Introduction by Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale

NCACC Members tor the Veterans Memorial Park

NCACC Macon County Luncheon

Phil Drake at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts

NCACC Members Tour the Cullasaja Gorge

NCACC Members in Highlands, NC

I would like to recognize Goshen Timber Frames for providing a car for me to drive during this event while my truck was out of service. Without that assistance, this coverage would not have happened.

Please help me to continue providing video coverage like this of local meetings, news events and high school sports by pledging a dollar a month on my Patreon Campaign page. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rabun County Wildcats at Franklin Panthers 08-15-2014

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The Rabun County High School Wildcats met the Franklin Panthers at the the Panther Pit for a scrimmage game that lasted for two quarters on Friday, August 15th. The Panthers won 20-14.

Here is video of the game.


I'm still trying to raise money to take this thing to the next level. Visit my Patreon page to find out more at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Rally for Public Education 08-13-2014

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The local chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators hosted a rally for public education today at noon at the town gazebo in downtown Franklin, NC.

Educators and supporters gathered in parrallel with other rallies across the state to protest the edeucation policies of the North Carolina Legislature and the Governor.

Speakers at the local rally were:

John DeVille, President of the local chapter of the NCAE was the Master of Ceremonies.

Jane Hipps, candidate for the 50th District NC Senate seat, was the keynote speaker.

Tyler Faetz, English teacher at Franklin High School also spoke, reminding attendees of the education forum next Wednesday night at 7pm in Tartan Hall that will be hosted by the League of Women Voters.

The full video and some photos of the local rally are posted below.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Macon County Commissioners 07-08-2014

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The Macon County Commissioners met on July 8, 2014 in the commissioner's boardroom for their regular July 2014 meeting. The video of gavel to not quite gavel coverage (there was no ending gavel in open session) of the meeting is below, followed by the public agenda and then the agneda given to the members of the media. Commissioners spent 29 minutes in a closed session and no decisions were announced when commissioners came out of the backroom.

Here is the public agenda:

•Call to order and welcome by Chairman Corbin 


•Moment of Silence 

•Pledge of Allegiance 

•Public Hearing(s) - 6:00 p.m.
-Community Development Block Grant Project Closeout - John Fay, Housing Director 
-Consideration of resolution approving financing terms

•Public Comment Period 

•Adjustments to and approval of the agenda 


•Old Business
-Confirmation of additional annual leave for county employees - County Manager

•New Business
-Resolution Designating Harold Corbin as an Honorary Historian of Macon County - Commissioner Beale
-Resolution Opposing the Designation of Additional Wilderness Areas Within the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County - Jim Gray
-Brian Jones Well Abandonment Agreement - County Attorney
-Amendments to Interlocal Agreement and Resolution Regarding the Veterans Transportation Project - County Attorney
-Ratification of Telephone/E-mail Poll Regarding Cancelation of Deed of Trust for Thompsons - County Attorney
-Resolution Changing the Due Date of the Macon County Room Occupancy-Tourism Development Tax - Finance Director
-Grant Project Ordinance and Budget Amendment for Housing Department - Finance Director
-Designation of Voting Delegate to the NCACC Annual Conference

•Consent Agenda - Attachment #11
All items below are considered routine and will be enacted by one motion. No separate discussion will be held except on request of a member of the Board of Commissioners.
-Minutes of the June 10 and June 16, 2014 meetings
-Budget Amendments #1 and #2
-Tax Releases
-Monthly ad valorem tax collection report

-Airport Authority (1 seat)
-Community Advisory Committee for Long Term Care (2 seats)

•Closed session (if necessary) 


Then here is agenda packet that was distributed to members of the media. Currently neither the commissioners nor the other members of the media make this available to the general public. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Franklin Aldermen 07-07-2014

The Franklin Town Board of Aldermen met last night for their regular meeting for July 2014. Video of the meetinf is above and video of the portion of the meeting where Aldermen voted 6-0 to select Summer Woodard as the new Town Manager is below.

I posted a play by play on Facebook if you care to check it out.

The public agenda is next:

Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen 

Meeting Agenda
Monday July 7, 2014 - 7:00 p.m. 

1.    Call to order- Mayor Bob Scott
2.    Pledge of Allegiance
3.    Adoption of  July 7, 2014 Proposed Agenda
4.    Approval of the June 2, 2014 Board Minutes
5.    Public Session
6.    New Business
  • Proclamation for Wilderness Act Celebration Day- Mayor Bob Scott
  • Amendment to the Town of Franklin Nuisance Ordinance- Land Use Administrator Justin Setser and Town Attorney John Henning  Jr.
  • Privilege License Refund- Tax Collector Jessie Wilkins and Town Attorney John Henning Jr.
  • Western North Carolina Hospice House- Interim Town Manager Summer Woodard and Town Attorney John Henning Jr.
7.   Legal
  • Lazy Hiker Subrogation Agreement- Town Attorney John Henning Jr.
  • Closed session- Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11 (a) (6), "to consider the qualifications, competence,                                            performance, character, fitness, conditions of appoint, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee".
8.    Announcements
  • Applications for the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Non-Profit Funding Pool are available at Town Hall and online at
  • The Town of Franklin will be hosting the joint meeting with Macon County and the Town of Highlands on Thursday July 24, 2014  at 6:00 p.m. in the Town Hall Board Room.
9. Adjourn

And here is a copy of the agenda packet that is released to the members of the media. To date, this is the only place you can see "the rest of the story" and the background materials that Aldermen use for the meeting and the material that the other media organizations use to write their stories on the meetings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Macon County Airport Authority June 2014 Meeting

Macon County Airport Authority Meeting Coverage

The Macon County Airport Authority met on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 for their regular monthly meeting. A quorum was not present, so the board could not conduct any regular business. Here is the video of the informational session that was held in lieu of an official meeting.

Chairman Miles Gregory announced that he had polled members of the board and found that there was a consensus to recommend to the county commissioners that Richard Rose of Highlands be selected to replace the recently deceased Harold Corbin on the board.

The next meeting will take place at the airport on the last Tuesday in July, which is the 29th of the month.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Speeches at the 2014 NCGOP State Convention

Delegates at the 2014 NCGOP State Convention

This past weekend, a once in a generation political event occurred in western North Carolina...a political party held it's annual state-wide convention here. Over 600 delegates gathered at the Convention Center at Harrah's Cherokee Casino to conduct their annual business, to take workshops to assist them learn how to win elections, and to hear from candidates for public office.

I was credentialed as a member of the press and covered the activities that took place on Saturday. I would have recorded the entire thing, but could only afford the fuel to attend one day, so I chose the day with the most happening.

I recorded several speeches and most of the general session that took place that day, minus part of the morning session.

Here are the speeches that I recorded from lunch onward. Tomorrow and Wednesday, I will post speeches from the District/County Chairman's Annual Breakfast and the activities on the convention floor as viewed from my position in a suite reserved for the press.

I hope this gives you an insight on the political process that I believe it is our civic duty to participate in if we wish to remain a free society.

It is also my belief that this is the most complete and neutral coverage of the convention you'll find anywhere in North Carolina.


A luncheon was held in the Council Fire Ballroom that featured speeches by Dr William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, and Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana and presumed to be a candidate for President in 2016. The event was sponsored by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers and here are the videos from that event:


After delegates had returned from lunch in the convention center, they were welcomed by Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Jim Snyder, Heather Grant, Ted Alexander and Mark Harris, who ran in the US Senate primary, all gathered on stage and endorsed Thom Tillis, won won the Republican primary. Thom Tillis then spoke. Here are those videos:


At 7pm, delegates and guests gathered in the Council Fire Ballroom in Harrah's Cherokee Hotel to eat and hear Former Governor or Arkansas Mike Huckabee speak. He was a candidate for President in 2008 and there is speculation he could be positioning himself for another run in 2016. Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, spoke last on the program. The videos from this event are below:

Maybe next year, the Democratic Party of North Carolina will hold their convention in Cherokee and I'll get to cover that event, too. They were holding their annual convention this weekend in Raleigh.


It costs money to do what I do. Please consider helping me out by visiting my Patreon crowd funding page and look at ways you can donate to help me.

Friday, June 6, 2014

On the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Normandy American Cemetery as viewed from the air. More than 9,000 Americans are buried here.

The above photo is an aerial view of the Normandy American Cemetery maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission. More than 9,000 Americans are buried here.

70 years ago today, the Allies launched an invasion of Europe to liberate her from the clutches of Nazi Germany. Learn more about this momentous day in world history at the National D-Day Memorial.

The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans. However recent painstaking research by the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation has achieved a more accurate - and much higher - figure for the Allied personnel who were killed on D-Day. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2499 American D-Day fatalities and 1915 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4414 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2500 dead). Further research may mean that these numbers will increase slightly in future. The details of this research will in due course be available on the Foundation's website at

Source: UK D-Day Museum FAQs

Here is a little background on the Normandy Landings on D-Day via Wikipedia:

The Normandy landings were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 AM British Double Summer Time(UTC+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval.
The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of 24,000 AmericanBritishCanadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also subsidiary 'attacks' mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.[4]
The operation was the largest amphibious invasion of all time, with over 160,000[5] troops landing on 6 June 1944. 195,700[6] Allied naval andmerchant navy personnel in over 5,000[5] ships were involved. The invasion required the transport of soldiers and materiel from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: UtahOmahaGoldJuno and Sword.

This is the entire broadcast day on the radio from June 6, 1944. This will give you a feel for how people back home learned of the invasion of Europe. You can download the audio for yourself at the Internet Archive.

And here are some documentaries about D-Day, including a prayer by President Roosevelt that was broadcast over the radio to Americans, and a speech by President Ronald Reagan at the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.

D-Day: The Normandy Invasion by crazedigitalmovies

And here is FDR offering a prayer on national radio for the troops invading Europe.


My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


And, on the 40th Anniversary of the invasion, President Ronald Reagan gave an unforgettable speech paying tribute to those boys who stormed a beach and began the liberation of Europe...

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Macon County Commissioners Hold Work Session for FY 2015

FY 2015 County Budget Work Session

Here is my video coverage of the budget work session that the Macon County Board of Commissioners held this past Saturday morning at the Cecil Groves Center on the campus of Southwestern Community College.

The commissioners will be holding a public hearing on the items in the proposed budget on Tuesday, June 10th at 6pm to hear what members of the public have to say about the budget. 

Here is a copy of the proposed budget:

If you wish to hear what Macon County Manager Derek Roland had to say when he delivered his budget message a few weeks ago, click here.  There are also copies of the 2014, 2013 and 2012 budgets at that location if you want to compare this year's budgets with those in years past.

Instead of filtering the news of this meeting and trying to tell you what I think is important, these videos will allow you to see for yourself what happened...and you can formulate your own opinions about what you think are the important takeaways from the work session. I have divided the meeting into ten videos so you don't have to wade your way through a three hour meeting just to watch one or two segments that interest you.


Local media organizations who had reporters present at this meeting were:

Macon Media (me)
The Franklin Press

Part One
Welcome and Parker Meadows Construction Bid Award

Part Two
Projected Revenues

Part Three
Expentitures by function
--General Government

Part Four
Expenditures by function
--Public Safety
Macon County EMS
Macon County Sheriff's Office

Part Five
Expenditures by function
--Health and Human Services
--Recreational and Cultural

Part Six
Expenditures by function
--Education I
Southwestern Community College

Part Seven
Expenditures by function
--Education II
Macon County Public Schools

Part Eight
Presentations by Volunteer Fire Departments I
--Clarks Chapel VFD

Part Nine
Presentations by Volunteer Fire Departments II
--Mountain Valley VFD

Part Ten
Miscellaneous Items
Adjournment after Closed Session


I am still seeking funds to help me get new equipment and to develop a website to better deliver the news and weather to you in a timely and organized fashion. If you are interested in helping me out, visit my Patreon page. There is also information there if you want to instead send me a one time donation, which most people are choosing to do.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mike Huckabee and Speaker Dennis Hastert To Keynote 2014 NCGOP Convention in Cherokee, NC

NCGOP 2014 Convention Coverage Banner

Macon Media will be covering the 2014 Convention of the North Carolina Republican Party since it is happening practically in our backyard in Cherokee, NC on June 7th. The statewide convention of the Democratic Party is happening in Raleigh, NC...too far away for me to cover. It is also occurring on June 7th.

I expect to be receiving my press credentials soon to cover the event, and as part of the process of applying to cover the event, I have started receiving press releases regarding next weekend's event. Here is one regarding the lineup of speakers.


North Carolina Republican Party

Raleigh, NC - The North Carolina Republican Party is pleased to announce that former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will be keynote speakers for the 2014 North Carolina Republican Party Convention dinner to be held on Saturday, June 7th in Cherokee, NC.

"It's a great honor to have Speaker Hastert and Governor Huckabee join us at our convention this year,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope. “Momentum is steadily building across North Carolina for Thom Tillis, with Republicans organizing the strongest grassroots effort in our state’s history. Speaker Hastert and Governor Huckabee will help make the 2014 NCGOP Convention a strong launching pad for Tillis' general election campaign, with the Republican Party united and energized to defeat liberal Kay Hagan in November."

Dennis Hastert served as the 59th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999-2007. Mike Huckabee served as the Governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007 and was a candidate for President in 2008.

The NCGOP Convention will also feature Republican U.S. Senate Nominee Thom Tillis, Governor Pat McCrory, Lt. Governor Dan Forest, Former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett, Congressman Mark Meadows and Dr. Mark Harris.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2014 Memorial Day Ceremony in Franklin, NC

Rifle Volley Pays respect to the Dead

American Legion Post 108 hosted other veterans organizations and the public in a ceremony to remember those who died in America's wars. The video and photos below were taken at that ceremony in the Veterans Memorial Park south of Franklin, NC.

There is still room for you to purchase a memorial brick for a family member and you can find out how to do that, or how to donate to the organization to help in the upkeep of the park at their website.

Slide show of photos. 

If the slide show does not work, view the photos on Flickr:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Remember the Fallen on Memorial Day

General Order No 11

General Order No. 11

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan - May 5, 1868

Today is the day set aside for remembering fallen veterans. 

The local Memorial Day ceremony:

FRANKLIN -- Veterans Memorial Park at 1288 Georgia Rd. Ceremony begins at 11:00am. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place at the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Franklin High School at 100 Panther Drive. More information on how you can contribute to the Veterans Memorial Park of Macon County.

I have found and posted General Order No. 11, which established Memorial Day as an observance by General Logan and a brief history of Memorial Day from the Veterans Administration.


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of


Adjutant General



Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”