Memorial Day History Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John ...PLEASE LOG IN FOR PREMIUM CONTENT. Our website requires visitors to log in to view the best local news. Not yet a subscriber? Subscribe today!