It’s May 1st, 1865. Officially, the Civil War has yet to end. Four long, tiresome years have passed since the beginning of the gruesome conflict, a struggle that has left over 600,000 Americans dead. Both North and South are scarred—blacks, whites, families, communities, all of the un-United States. Bitterness and anger continue to seethe underneath all activity despite the exhaustion and the desire for a timely resolution to the War. So many on both sides have forfeited their lives, and so many have yet to be properly buried or recognized.
It appears to be an ordinary day in Charleston, South Carolina. Hot, muggy—the typical May day in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
This average South Carolina day, however, evolves into an amazing time of recognition, unity, and healing. When America needs healing most, Americans and South Carolinians don’t disappoint.
For the past ten days, your fellow South Carolinians in Charleston—most of whom are black freedmen—have been preparing a proper burial ground for the hundreds of dead soldiers who lack a proper resting place. Having built a beautiful fence, a large archway over the gate, and planted arranged rows of graves, these South Carolinians prepare for a fitting ceremony to recognize those who sacrificed their lives.
Beginning at 9:00 AM, men, women, and children march around this newly-established cemetery laying flowers on the graves of the fallen. You recognize, as a local reporter says, that “(w)hen all had left, the holy mounds — the tops, the sides, and the spaces between them—were one mass of flowers, not a speck of earth could be seen; and as the breeze wafted the sweet perfumes from them, outside and beyond … there were few eyes among those who knew the meaning of the ceremony that were not dim with tears of joy.” The day continued as a celebration of what America stands for—freedom for all bought with the precious lives of so many of its dedicated citizens. The day also set a precedent for which all others would follow.
Flash forward to May 30th, 2016. No official war is declared, but Americans continue to sacrificially give their lives for the cause of liberty. Over 600,000 Americans since May 1st, 1865, in fact. So many from all over America have surrendered their lives.
It appears to be a customary day in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston. Yes, hot and muggy—the typical May day in South Carolina.
This average South Carolina day, however, ought not to be so average. Take a break from your grill, rest from your outdoor activities, pause your movie for just a few moments. Previous South Carolinians have set a lasting legacy for you and I to follow. At the very least, the fallen deserve a small portion of your time and recognition, so don’t let this Memorial Day go by without taking a moment to show your gratitude for American heroes who provided you with the freedom you love.
Let us #AlwaysRemember.
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