Various dates ranging from April 25 to mid-June were adopted in different Southern states.
Across the South, associations were founded, many by women, to establish and care for permanent cemeteries for the Confederate dead, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor appropriate monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate dead.
The 1863 cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers.
On July 4, 1864, ladies decorated soldiers' graves according to local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.
The more than 600,000 soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance.
Heflin was a noted orator; His choice as Memorial Day speaker was criticized, as he was opposed for his support of segregation; however, his speech was moderate in tone and stressed national unity and goodwill, gaining him praise from newspapers.
On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.
Memorial Day speeches became an occasion for veterans, politicians, and ministers to commemorate the Civil War and, at first, to rehash the "atrocities" of the enemy.
They mixed religion and celebratory nationalism for the people to make sense of their history in terms of sacrifice for a better nation.