More than 160 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans still face institutionalized racism that often has deadly results. Witness the fact, explained in Jon Vankin’s article about the death penalty (below), that Black Americans are exceedingly more likely to be executed for their crimes than White Americans. Today is a good day to consider that harrowing fact.
Some scholars have argued that Black Americans invented the holiday we now celebrate as Memorial Day. On May 1, 1865, a group of 10,000 Black men, women and children in Charleston, South Carolina, newly freed by Lincoln's order, marched to honor more than 250 Union soldiers that had been buried in a mass grave at a nearby Confederate prison. They then unearthed the soldiers, gave them each a proper burial, and placed flowers on their graves. That event may have served as inspiration when Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared May 30, 1868 as the first Decoration Day, which was offically renamed and made a national holiday in 1971.
Honoring All Veterans
Memorial Day is primarily meant to honor those who gave their lives in military service to the United States. It is also a good time to thank living veterans for their service. If you or a loved one are a veteran, follow these links to find some information that we hope will be useful.
Find local nonprofits and community organizations serving veterans. (Follow this link and select your county from the drop-down in the upper left corner of your screen.)