Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

RandySF

(61,367 posts)
Mon May 31, 2021, 04:28 PM May 2021

The first Memorial Day on record was held by freed African Americans

The mention of Memorial Day easily conjures images of cookouts, military ceremonies, and gravesite visits, and yet, the stories of how these traditions were born are still under-told.

Fundamentally we’re taught that Memorial Day is about remembering the veterans who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms as Americans, but what’s too often omitted is that the first Memorial Day celebration on record dates back to 1865 when newly emancipated Black people in Charleston, South Carolina exhumed a mass grave for Union soldiers who made that sacrifice toward the end of the civil war.

Union soldiers were held as captives by the Confederacy in Charleston’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, a country club that had been converted into a prison. When the Union army seized Charleston, emancipated peoples honored the sacrifices of the brutalized and discarded soldiers who died in prison by giving them a new burial, according to History.com.

In a grand gesture of care, the emancipated exhumed the mass grave of roughly 260 Union soldiers in April 1865 and reinterred each soldier in their own grave in a new cemetery they built with a tall white-washed fence; the effort took about two weeks according to the College of Charleston. On the fence, free Black Americans wrote the words “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

On May 1, 1865, almost a month after the Civil War formally ended with the Confederate army in Virginia’s surrender, Charleston’s Black community, white missionaries, and school children threw a parade that drew over 10,000 people at the race track. It was replete with songs, marches, flowers, prayers and a picnic, according to some of the earliest articles from the Charleston Courier and the New York Tribune.



https://thegrio.com/2021/05/31/first-memorial-day-held-by-freed-african-americans/

5 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
The first Memorial Day on record was held by freed African Americans (Original Post) RandySF May 2021 OP
I used to live in the south and was often told that DURHAM D May 2021 #1
That's interesting, we really need to learn more about our own history JI7 May 2021 #2
Interesting . Growing up it always seemed like Memorial Day was "our" holidays. I know it's the Dream Girl May 2021 #3
I would love a pulled pork sandwich right now RandySF May 2021 #4
Very interesting precursor to the "official" Memorial Day SharonClark Jun 2021 #5

DURHAM D

(32,634 posts)
1. I used to live in the south and was often told that
Mon May 31, 2021, 04:41 PM
May 2021

Memorial Day is a Yankee holiday. Perhaps the above story is a part of that bias.

Thanks for posting. Interesting story.

 

Dream Girl

(5,111 posts)
3. Interesting . Growing up it always seemed like Memorial Day was "our" holidays. I know it's the
Mon May 31, 2021, 05:49 PM
May 2021

Beginning of summer for everyone, but of all holidays, it always felt “black”” to me. Maybe just the ribs and Mac n cheese.

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»The first Memorial Day on...