Monday, 18 May 2009

Memorial Day

© Joe ONeill 2009

Sixty five years ago today, the Supreme Commander of the Normandy Invasion Force, General Dwight Eisenhower, reviewed some 2,000 American troops billeted in the North of Ireland. The visit of the future American President took place on the grounds of Portora Royal School Enniskillen, just weeks before the Normandy invasion on D-Day 6th of June, 1944. At the time, the visit was kept secret for security reasons.

The event was commemorated today by WW II re-enactment enthusiasts with period uniforms and weapons. The American Consul for Northern Ireland, Susan Elliott, was in also in attendance.

The last Monday of May, (25 May 2009) is observed as Memorial Day in the United States of America. General John Alexander Logan, the son of an Irish immigrant, is generally credited with being the driving force behind the first campaign to have a national public holiday (Which morphed into Memorial Day) to honour Union soldiers killed in the American Civil War. Today, memorial services are held to include all U.S. men and women who have died in military service.

Logan’s father, Dr. John Logan, was born in Co. Monaghan to John and Elizabeth Logan and in 1793, at five years old, came to the U. S., where the family settled in the state of Illinois.

Dr. Logan‘s son, John Jnr. born in 1826, served in the 1st Illinois infantry during the Mexican-American war of 1847 and later graduated from the University of Louisville with a law degree. He entered politics and during his second term as a serving Congressman, he fought in the famous battle of Bull Run as a volunteer. After the battle he returned to Washington, resigned his seat and was commissioned into the 31st Illinois volunteers as a Colonel.

He served in the Western Theatre with future Commander of the Union Army and future President General U. S. Grant, also from Illinois. He served with distinction and fought in numerous engagements and was severely wounded in a battle at Fort Donelson. At the end of the war he held the rank of Major General.

James G. Blaine chose Logan as his vice-presidential running mate in the 1884 presidential election, but they failed to get elected.

General Logan died in 1886 and his body lay in state in the United States Capitol building. He is buried in the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, beside Arlington National Cemetery.

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