On May 5th, 1868, General John A. Logan spoke the following:
The 30th 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 churchyard 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.
This was the first official recognition of Decoration Day — or, as it was later named, Memorial Day.
On that May day in 1868, during the first celebration, General James Garfield (later the twentieth U.S. President, and, incidentally, one of the last great Presidents this country has had) gave a moving speech at Arlington National Cemetery. After his speech was concluded, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington Cemetery.