Monday, May 30, 2011

Origin of Memorial Day by David W. Blight

There is this very interesting article by David W. Blight about the first memorial day in Charleston, South Carolina. I strongly recommend reading it. It is a very powerful essay which I think will have important ramifications.

The following is a quote from the story:

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery.They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the
United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

So what is Obama doing today, sending a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Monument.

The History News Network did run the 2009 letter today, but not the 2010 or 2011 letters.

I suggest people read Blight's essay in the New York Times then read our letters to Obama at:

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