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early speeches for Decoration Day — the name originally given to the holiday and used alongside “Memorial Day” until the mid 20th Century — often celebrated the Union soldiers’ fight to end slavery and to preserve the union.

It was in the decades that followed, at least for those without a personal connection to the military, that the memorial aspects faded even more, as did many of the objections to that shift.After Vietnam, argued religious historian Catherine Albanese in 1974, the collective nature of Memorial Day that Warner had described not so long before had eroded.The country had become fragmented about what it meant for an American soldier to die, and the purpose of war in general.The original vision for the day, as expressed by Union General John A.Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a powerful national veterans association of Union soldiers, emphasized honor and dignity.

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