A Sober Holiday

On Monday we observed Memorial Day. In the United States the first “memorial day” was observed in 1865 by freed slaves at the historic Charleston race track, the site of a former Confederate prison camp — and a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. The freed slaves re-interred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard and built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard; a very daring thing to do in the South shortly after North’s victory.

On May 30 1886, or thereabouts, the freed slaves returned to the beautify graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the 1st “Decoration Day”. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.

This special occasion has been transformed into a 4-5 day weekend and the beginning of the summer season. We often forget that this is a sober holiday and that we dare not forget the men and women who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves. I hope you will never forget this!