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tuesday, september 30, 2014 6:49 am zst

Much ado

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Memorial Day

I've come to the opinion that the observance of Memorial Day should be restored to its traditional date of May 30. We are honoring our soldiers who died fighting for our country and having an exact day to do this would be more respectful and meaningful than "the last Monday in May" which has turned into "Barbecue Day" for most people.

Memorial Day is more than a general observance of the sacrifices made by our fallen soldiers. In the beginning it specifically honored those soldiers who had died to free slaves. It seems to me that this day should be especially meaningful to the black community.

According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed on May 1, 1865 by liberated slaves at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The site had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died in captivity. The freed slaves disinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to be inhumed properly reposed with individual graves, built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch, declaring it a Union graveyard. On May 30, 1868, the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the first Decoration Day. Thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers paraded from the area, followed by much patriotic singing and a picnic.

At least we've kept the picnic.

Posted by zorkmidden on May 25, 2009 6:00 am

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