As 1945 began, Torrey Johnson, Billy Graham, Bob Cook, Doug Fisher, George Beverly Shea and other leaders in Chicago began planning for a massive rally to mark the movement’s one year anniversary in Chicago. They hoped it would attract the attention of the nation and generate publicity and support for the new organization. The Chicago YFC had by then developed a wide net of businesspeople, pastors and civic leaders for support. (Local businessmen such as Herbert J. Taylor and Andrew Wyzenbeek were financial supporters and actively involved in YFC planning.) The Memorial Day Rally would draw on all of them.
Soldier Field was the largest venue in Chicago — even President Franklin D. Roosevelt had spoken to a crowd of 150,000 in October 1944 — and YFC rented it for the rally. Hundreds of local pastors were contacted and urged to become involved. Thousands were recruited to sing in the choir, play in the band or serve as ushers. Hundreds of others, including ROTC units from local high schools, would play parts in various parts of the rally.
Sponsors of local radio programs were urged to advertise the upcoming meeting on the air. The rally was to be broadcast live over the radio station of Moody Bible Institute. Portions were broadcast later over Chicago’s premier station, WGN. Arrangements were made to film the rally, presumably to be shown in local churches and at other YFC meetings. Wheaton College was one of the Chicagoland Christian institutions deeply involved in the event. Special trains brought hundreds of students from the College to attend the rally, as well as watch the baseball game in Grant Park before the rally began, where the Wheaton baseball team played (and lost to) the team from the Glenview Naval Air Station (Glenview, Illinois).