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Memorial Day History, Movies, and Chicago's Grant Park

Look for 2 monuments devoted to the founder of Memorial Day in our short video on The Trial of the Chicago 7

statue of man on a horse
Statue of John A. Logan in Chicago's Grant Park

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was a day when Americans decorated the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. Today, it is a national holiday that commemorates all American soldiers who lost their lives in defense of the nation.

Traditionally, Memorial Day marked the start of summer, with parades and celebrations, like this one, paying tribute to those who sacrificed their lives:

soldiers and crowd with flags
Decoration Day, 1917. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

While several towns claim to have hosted the first Memorial Day celebration, Illinois Civil War general John A. Logan deserves credit for establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday.

After the Civil War, Logan helped found the Grand Army of the Republic. During his tenure with this group, Logan issued an order that called for a national day of remembrance for Civil War dead. This order would serve as the basis for what became the national holiday of Memorial Day.

Look for 2 monuments devoted to General Logan in our short video below on The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin, 2020).


Chicago and Movies in 60 Seconds

This video takes you to two statues of General John A. Logan: one in a Civil War military park in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the other in Chicago's Grant Park. The Grant Park statue, you'll learn, was prominently featured in The Trial of the Chicago Seven, a 2020 movie depicting the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

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