On May 1, 1865, former slaves and now freed men gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the death of Union soldiers and the end of the American Civil War. Three years later, General John Logan issued a special order that May 30, 1868 be observed as Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day — a day set aside “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”
This from TIME.
A holiday with roots in one of our nation's bloodiest wars is now a welcomed long weekend promising rest from the stressors of life; summer is unofficially in the air.
The brave men and women who, throughout US history, fought and sacrificed for the ideals of freedom and liberty and justice would want you and I to kickback and bask in our time with family, friends, or nature because the freedom to celebrate is central to what makes us us.
When alarm clocks start getting all buzzy on Tuesday morning, however, it's important to also remember that the fight isn't over.
There are still people in our land who are oppressed, hated, neglected, abused, and threatened. There are still many who struggle to survive; a mile marker reminding the human family that the fight for freedom — that freedom within each human heart that demands to flourish and yearns to extend out into the world — is not yet won.
In 1868, the common enemies — armed with weaponry and suited up in blue and gray — were apathy, ignorance, hatred, and fear, and they're still holed up in parts of ourselves today.
Let's decorate the here and now with a commitment to change that once and for all.