Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day begun by slaves

May 25, 2009  BY BRIAN HICKS, THE POST AND COURIER (Charleston, South Carolina)Charleston was in ruins.
The peninsula was nearly deserted, the fine houses empty, the streets littered with the debris of fighting and the ash of fires that had burned out weeks before. The Southern gentility was long gone, their cause lost.
In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, “a city of the dead.”
On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.
For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral.
The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing “John Brown’s Body.”
Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later —picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.
On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day.
Read complete story on original website
Gotta tell ya, this kinda puts Lincoln's Gettysburg Address into a different context for me. The liberated paying tribute with prayer and thanksgiving for the liberators. Especially when Lincoln says that it is to we the living to be rededicated in devotion to the cause for which the dead had given their last full measure of devotion. Liberty, equality, justice, unity. Yeah, it's sad that this day has become an excuse for drinking, eating, and appliance sales. But I think that it's also too bad that it gets confused and interchanges with Veteran's Day, Labor Day, Armed Forces Day, All Saint's Day, and Flag Day. It shouldn't be about empty patriotism, flag waving or political posturing any more than it should be about beer, brats, and boating.

If we take the example of those slaves almost 146 years ago, we will listen to God's Word and spend time in prayer. Recognizing the enormous sacrifice of those who have lost their lives serving to protect our freedoms. If we follow President Lincoln's advice, we will devote ourselves for the same things they sacrificed for. It's not about the flag, it's not about our colors or our pride. Shouldn't it be about liberty, equality, unity, and justice? Of ALL the people, by ALL the people, and for ALL  the people.

Yes for the fallen troops, but also for what they were fighting for. That's what I believe we need to remember and memorialize today. May God direct our words, thoughts, and actions so that we do just that. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." ~Galations 6:8
Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on. 
John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on. 
He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened "Old Virginny" till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on. 
John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on. 
The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on. 
Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on

No comments:

Post a Comment