When Johnny Comes Marching Home for Memorial Day. Many a proud parent has said goodbye to their son or daughter with a prayer that they will be safe and return. Sadly, many gave their lives for us and we are forever grateful for their sacrifice. Happily, many did return, not the same person that left, but they did return. Johnny Comes Marching Home is about that longing for the return of loved ones. Although it is from 1863, the sentiment has never changed though the many wars and many years. “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” was a popular song from the American Civil War that expressed people’s longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war. Patrick Gilmore wrote the song during the Civil War in 1863 for his sister Annie as she prayed for the safe return of her fiancé, Union Light Artillery Captain John.