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Chicago's honorary brown street signs, days, and commemorative honors; the who, what, where, when and why.  Honorary Chicago guide book, maps, biographies, history, trivia, tours, and gifts.

John A. Logan, founder of Memorial Day


John A. Logan, founder of Memorial Day

Linda Zabors

John A. Logan equestrian statue in Grant Park, Chicago

John A. Logan equestrian statue in Grant Park, Chicago

John Logan was a Major General in the American Civil War and served under General Ulysses S. Grant, for whom Chicago's Grant Park is named. After the war he served as Senator of Illinois in the US Congress. He and his fellow veterans in Congress established Memorial Day as a Federal holiday to remember the soldiers who died during the war.   

After the end of the Civil War several streets and towns in the United States were named in his honor including: Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood and Logan Boulevard.   

More about General John Logan

His nickname was "Black Jack Logan" and he was not an abolitionist early in his political career.  However, when announced in 1861 that he would join the Union Army under President Abraham Lincoln, whom he had originally opposed, Logan's declaration helped secure Illinois as a free state.  After the war he returned to his seat in the US Congress and became well known for supporting the rights of former slaves and of women, and for establishing services for veterans of the Civil War and their families.

He had been a Vice Presidential candidate but his campaign ticket lost to President Grover Cleveland in the 1884 election. John Logan aspired to the US Presidency and was in line for candidacy, but he did not live to see the next election cycle.

The Logan Museum is located in Murphysboro, Illinois where John Logan was born.

More about Memorial Day

On May 3, 1868 Logan's General Order 11 established May 30, 1868 as the first observance  This was three year after the end of the Civil War. In later years it came to represent soldiers lost in all wars and armed conflicts.  

General John Logan's order suggested that it be a day where people would decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers.  It was originally known as Decoration Day.

Memorial Day and the red poppy

Photo by Milous/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Milous/iStock / Getty Images

The red poppy came to be associated with Memorial Day. It symbolized the sacrifice and blood spilled on the battlefield.  Observers might wear the red poppy on Memorial Day or use it to decorate the graves of soldiers.  In 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization began using the red poppy to raise awareness and to solicit financial support.  The tradition of the red poppy spread. In the US and in parts of Europe the red poppy became associated with fundraising for causes related to fallen soldiers, their families, and the orphans of war.  To this day some organizations give red poppies as tokens of appreciation for charitable donations. 

Memorial Day observances in Chicago

The original order also noted that citizens are free to create their own methods of remembrance and memorial.

Feature post: 5 Ways to Observe Memorial Day in Chicago

The Chicago Cultural Mile Association host a wreath laying ceremony at the John A. Logan statue in Grant Park near 9th Street every year on Memorial Day.

Honorary Chicago gives tours of Logan Square and the Cultural Mile to commemorate Memorial Day.