Happy Memorial Day, my American friends! Being Canadian, I’m celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday today instead, but I’ll spare some thought for the American celebration. It’s worth remembering that it was only in the past few years that the Memorial Day origins came to light, discovered in an archive by the Yale professor David Blight.
This day has many stories of its origin, and all quite probable. Basically we know for sure it was started after the Civil War. Civil War Veterans were its main focus. In May of 1868 three years after the war, former slaves in the Charleston South Carolina area began to dig up the 257 Grand Army of the Republic solders buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison yard. Their idea was the result of an appreciation for their freedom. It took them two weeks to give these soldiers proper burial. Then 10,000 people were led by 2,800 African American children in a parade to the cemetery where flowers, prayers and singing of hymns took place.