Hancock American Legion marks Memorial Day

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Alfred Erickson American Legion Post 186 of Hancock honored their fallen comrades at approximately a dozen sites on Monday, continuing an honor that dates (officially) back to 1868.

HANCOCK — Members of the Alfred Erickson American Legion Post 186 turned out Monday morning to honor the fallen on Memorial Day, performing ceremonies at a dozen sites.

The post began at 7:50 a.m. on Michigan Street, in Hancock, to honor those veterans whose remains still occupy the cemeteries beneath the parking lots and churches of Catholic Church of the Resurrection, and the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church next door.

The next sites where ceremonies were conducted were the Houghton County Marina, the Veterans Park, in Houghton, Houghton’s Forest Hill Cemetery, the Liminga Cemetery and the Oskar cemeteries, in Stanton Township, the Hancock (Montezuma Park) Memorial, in Hancock, the Quincy Hill Memorial, Waasa Cemetery, the Hancock Lakeside Cemetery, concluding with a ceremony at their Post 186 Home Memorial.

Memorial Day traces its origins to the veteran group Grand Army of the Republic, which was founded in 1866, in Decatur, Illinois, and quickly grew to include hundreds of posts across the northern states. The GAR was composed of veterans of the Union Army of the Civil War. At that time the heart of a regiment was a soldier’s company and companies were raised by a prominent resident of a town, who recruited members from his town, or neighboring towns. The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in the United States’ history. When a soldier went into battle, he would inevitably see men die, those being the boys he grew up with. Those who survived would not, nor could not, forget their friends and relatives who had fallen in defense of their nation.

On May 5, 1868, the GAR established Decoration Day to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

Major General John A. Logan former Union Army XV Corps commander was instrumental in the founding of the GAR, and was its second commander-in-chief. It was Logan who, on March 3, 1868, issued the now famous General Order Number 11, issued to all posts, calling for a national day of remembrance for Civil War dead. This order served as the basis for what became the national holiday of Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for the 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.”


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