Photo courtesy Just Add Light's photostream
"After the Battle, we lay down our weapons and weep at what has happened." ~Lao Tzu, 6th century B.C. philosopher
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War One.
The first Memorial Day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park ) in Charleston, South Carolina. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp in 1865 as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there.
Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and re-interred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days.
On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, processed to the location for a celebration which included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
Please make time between the parties this holiday to remember those men and women who were fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters who laid down their lives for this nation. Enjoy the freedom they gave us to have holidays, and enjoy your picnic or BBQ.
I'm taking the weekend off.