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Decoration and Memorial Day: a Proclamation. (30 May 1916.)

At this hour the great European nations are engaged in deadly conflict. History fails to record any other war of like magnitude and ferocity. Human imagination utterly fails to appreciate the agony of the millions of mothers and children whose wishes were never consulted. Millions of human lives have been ruthlessly sacrificed to say nothing of the widespread destruction of property. Chaos has been substituted for order; hate and revenge dominate the minds of the contesting rulers of these great nations. Death is their watchword.

In the United States peace reigns. This great nation is fearlessly conserving the faith and loyalty of the people. Our watchwords are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." At this hour we look back to our last awful sacrifice on the altar of liberty. On May thirtieth the remnant of the Grand Army of the Republic, together with one hundred million freeman, will pay tribute to the living and the dead. Let us reverently and lovingly join the spirit of the immortal Lincoln in dedicating our lives to the task of increasing "our devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of their devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth."

May the democracy of our beloved nation in this hour of world peril fearlessly and successfully point the way to universal peace. The regenerating need of Europe and of the whole civilized world is democracy and more democracy.

While decorating the graves of the "Boys in Blue," let us lovingly remember our Spanish War veterans; likewise the patriotic self-sacrifice of American mothers who gave us our heroes.

Therefore, I, Woodbridge N. Ferris, Governor of the State of Michigan, do hereby issue this, my proclamation, and heartily urge the observance of Tuesday, May 30, 1916 as Memorial Day.

As a part of the public exercises of Memorial Day, I suggest that the bells be tolled from 12:00 o'clock noon until 12:05; that flags be placed at half mast and that comrades stand with uncovered heads during this period.

Source: Decoration Day Proclamation. Addresses and Writings, Box 6. Woodbridge N. Ferris Papers. University Archives. Ferris State University.