Memorial Day conjures up images of the beginning of summer. Parties, cook-outs, trips to the beach, and parades lead the list for this holiday celebration. Bonus – most companies give their employees the day off. But, what exactly is Memorial Day (sometimes referred to as Decoration Day)?
It began in Charleston, South Carolina at Hampton’s Park Washington Racecourse in 1864, which became an open-air prison for Union soldiers prior to Sherman’s March to the Sea. The death toll was 275 soldiers. Individual graves were not an option and the site became one massive grave. Following the fall of Charleston, exhumation of the bodies occurred and were properly buried.
What about the Confederate soldiers? This gets a bit tricky due to political unrest between the states. Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday. It is observed in Southern States including: Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina, honoring the 258,000 Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.
All this changed following WWI. Memorial Day, as we know it, is a day to honor all soldiers who were killed or disabled fighting to protect America’s freedom.