William McKinley photo

Executive Order

April 03, 1899

It is fitting that in behalf of the Nation, tribute of honor be paid to the memories of the noble men who lost their lives in their country's service during the late war with Spain.

It is more fitting, inasmuch as in consonance with a spirit of our free institutions, and in obedience to the most exalted prompting of patriotism, those who were sent to other shores to do battle for their country's honor, under their country's flag, went freely from every quarter of our beloved clime; each soldier, each sailor parting from home ties and putting behind him private interest in the presence of the stern emergency of unsought war with an alien foe, was an individual type of that devotion of the citizen to the State which makes our Nation strong in unity and action.

Those who died in other lands left in many homes the undying memories that attend the honored dead of all ages. It was fitting with the advent of peace, won by their sacrifice, their bodies should be gathered with tender care and restored to home and country. This has been done with the dead of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Those of the Philippines still rest where they fell, watched over by their surviving comrades and mourned with the love of a grateful nation.

The remains of many brought to our shores have been delivered to their families for private burial, but for others of the brave officers and men who perished, there has been reserved interment in the ground sacred to the soldiers and sailors, and amid tributes of national memories they have so well deserved.

I therefore order:

That upon the arrival of the cortege at the National Cemetery at Arlington, all proper military and naval honors be paid to the dead heroes; that suitable ceremonies shall attend their interment; that the customary salute of mourning be fired at the cemetery, and that on the same day at two o'clock P.M., Thursday, the sixth day of April, the National ensign be displayed at half staff on all public buildings, forts, camps and public vessels of the United States, and that at twelve o'clock noon of said day all the Departments of the Government at Washington shall be closed.


William McKinley, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/205961

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