It is right and it is good to take a moment today and discuss Memorial Day and what it means. If I didn’t write this blog I wouldn’t know that Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving, and Veterans Day celebrates all U.S. military veterans.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day because people decorated the gravesites of those who died during the Civil War. Many cities and towns claim the birthplace of Memorial Day, but I’d like to share the story from Charleston.
During the Civil War Union soldiers who were prisoners were held at the Hampton Park Race Course in Charleston. Over 250 prisoners died and were buried in unmarked graves. The freedmen cleaned up the burial ground and added an arch that said “Martyrs of the Race Course.” On May 1, 1865, some 10,000 black residents of Charleston, along with teachers and white missionaries from the north, gathered to commemorate the war dead. The parade was led by three thousand black school children, followed by women with baskets of flowers and wreaths and men marching in cadence. The children sang “We'll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and other gospel songs. Many stayed at the park for picnics and fellowship.
Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael wrote her own poem in 1915:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
And, thanks for taking a moment with me today as we count our blessings and say, “I’M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!”