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They were "strikingly successful at raising money to build Confederate monuments, lobbying legislatures and Congress for the reburial of Confederate dead, and working to shape the content of history textbooks." Changes in the ceremony's hymns and speeches reflect an evolution of the ritual into a symbol of cultural renewal and conservatism in the South.

By 1913, David Blight argues, the theme of American nationalism shared equal time with the Confederate.

There often is a religious service and a picnic-like "dinner on the grounds," the traditional term for a potluck meal at a church.

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The four-day "Blue-Gray Reunion" featured parades, re-enactments, and speeches from a host of dignitaries, including President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner elected to the White House after the War.

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.

Since 1868 Doylestown, Pennsylvania has run annual Memorial Day parades which it claims to be the nation's oldest continuously running; however, the Memorial Day parade in Rochester, Wisconsin predates Doylestown's by one year.

Various dates ranging from April 25 to mid-June were adopted in different Southern states.

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.

Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape.

This action followed House Concurrent Resolution 587, in which the 89th Congress had officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day had begun one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York. Logan issued a proclamation calling for "Decoration Day" to be observed annually and nationwide; he was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans' organization for Union Civil War veterans.

In 1871, Michigan made "Decoration Day" an official state holiday and by 1890, every northern state had followed suit.

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.

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