I originally wrote this "reflection" for my newsletter on May 28, 2012. In honor of this day a year later, I would like to share it again...
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. It is a day symbolized by flags and flowers – honoring the lives lost in war and celebrating hope of life re-emerging. As historian David Blight so eloquently writes, "War kills people and destroys human creation; but as though mocking war's devastation, flowers inevitably bloom through its ruins."
I like to know “the story” behind tradition. Here is what I found out about this day:
Originally this day was called Decoration Day. The first account of this type of celebration was in May 1865 at the close of the Civil War. Over 600,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, and our war-torn country was left trying to heal, reunite and make sense of devastation. In Charleston, South Carolina, a city left in ruins from the war, thousands of freed slaves, black people and white people gathered in a procession. Led by children, the parade marched through what had been a slave-owners’ horse-racing course. During the war, the race course was turned into an outdoor prison camp to hold the Union soldiers fighting for emancipation. The procession ended at the gravesites of the soldiers who had died in the prison camp. The celebration marked a “first” in our history: "a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before" (New York Tribune). It was a coming together of people – to heal, to mourn, to sing, to celebrate life. It was beginning of the ending of slavery and the reunification of our country.
One hundred forty-seven years later, we are still affected by war. I wish peace to all who suffer loss and brokenness related to war. I am grateful for our coming together. As we walk compassionately with each other through grieving and honoring, we become strong and heal. I have faith in the victory of truth and goodness of this world - where there is no more oppression, bondage, walls to love or hindering of spirits.
“We have it in our power to begin the world over.” ~Thomas Paine
I am grateful to all who give of themselves for the betterment of humanity...