Memorial Day weekend defined
Ahh, Memorial Day weekend. The unofficial start of summer. The first weekend when one can safely wear white again (although some folks have been throwing caution to the wind for months). A weekend filled with boat rides, coconut suntan lotion, cotton-y beach cover-ups, cook-outs, flags waving along the streets of small town parades, fireside s’mores, cool cocktails (poolside, perhaps?), sparklers, and the company of friends and family, maybe a little shopping (and yes, we are having an *amazing* storewide sale this weekend, 20% everything, but I digress). But what does Memorial Day truly mean? I feel like I’m having a Charlie Brown moment. Where’s Linus to explain it to me?
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Interestingly, it was originally called Decoration Day (so of course that caught my eye), as was evidenced by one women’s group in the South who decorated graves near the end of the Civil War, along with many others just like them all over the country. The goal and the need was to honor the dead by “decorating” the graves of fallen soldiers.
Memorial Day history has a specific connection to Charleston, as well, which I found to be very interesting… According to my friends at the University of Wikipedia, in 1865, freed slaves celebrated at what is today Hampton Park, which had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp for captured Union soldiers, as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Once safe to do so, the freemen exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them in individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. On May 1, 1865, a crowd of up to ten thousand mainly black residents, including 2,800 children, went to that very spot for sermons, singing, and a picnic, thereby creating the first Decoration Day-type celebration. Keep that in the back of your mind the next time you swing through Hampton Park… Or if you have friends in town you’ll look like quite the historian if you actually recall its importance. 🙂
So, on this Memorial Day weekend, I hope that you will find the balance between having a fabulous long weekend kicking off the beginning to summer 2011, and honoring those who have so valiantly fought and given their lives for our freedom. There is a national moment of remembrance on Monday at 3pm, during which you can pause quietly from whatever you are doing and show your respect.
Now, get out there and show me your best white shoes. -M