Memorial Day Reads

Good Afternoon! Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It’s the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to our country.  The day was originally known as Decoration Day.  It was as recognized in 1868 when an organization of Union veterans established the day as a day to decorate the graves of Union Soldiers. It is believed that former slaves were the first to actually have a Memorial Day type event in 1865 which inspired Northerners to do similar things. 

This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.

Continue reading here … Source: Memorial Day Reads

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