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Memorial Day is a special day in America where we honor those who lost their life while fighting
in wars. The idea of a memorial day came from many places such as from organized groups of women in the south who
would decorate the graves of those who died fighting in the Civil War to towns who would gather together to
who died. There was a great need by people to
remember those who lost their lives while fighting in the Civil
The idea of a memorial day was popular and Memorial Day was officially established
on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan who was the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 30, 1868 the first
Memorial Day was observed. Arlington National Cemetery placed flowers on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers.
But the South refused to participate in this holiday and remembered their dead on different days. It wasn't until the end of
World War I where Memorial Day honored those who perished in the Civil War and World War I, did the South begin to recognize
Memorial Day. Wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who died in war, came from a 1915 poem by Moina Michael
where the red poppy grows in fields where valor and heroes live on. Moina sold many red poppies and donated the money to
needy soldiers. Memorial Day honors all who lost their lives in all wars American soldiers have fought and is celebrated
on the last Monday in May.
Today, we observe Memorial Day in many ways from placing
flowers on graves, putting small American flags around neighborhoods, wearing a red poppy, family barbecues and always remembering
our ancestors who died so valiantly!
An excellent resource for genealogists are passport applications. Passports were first issued around
1789. Some traveled to other countries with a type of passport before 1789. At this time passports were not required
by American citizens to travel to different countries. By 1856 Congress passed an act requiring passports to be issued
by the Department of State. Passports were required during the Civil War, WWI and WWII. They have been required
to travel out of the country since 1945.
Citizens born or naturalized in America were eligible
for a passport. In the 1800's citizens who were businessmen or those who could afford to travel could obtain a passport.
Foreign-born citizens traveled a lot to their home country to visit relatives. Most of the applicants were men. Men who
traveled with their wives, children and servants were all listed on the man's passport application with relationships indicated.
Same for women who traveled only with their children and servants. One passport was issued for groups traveling together. Information
on the passports changed as time went by. Passport applications could list date of birth, place of birth, name,
physical description, occupation, destination and the applicants reason for travel. There were different types of passport
applications such as regular, naturalization, emergency and insular. Applications might of even asked for letters of recommendation.
If you think your ancestor traveled to other countries, check different time periods as many traveled often. Here are some websites
to help you in your search for passport applications.