This post was originally published on New York Amsterdam News

EDITOR’S NOTE: The article was originally published on May 29, 2017

Memorial day is a day that is set aside to honor those who fought in for the United States Military. As many headed out to the beach or maybe a family barbeque enjoying the weather many might not be aware of the several different theories of how memorial day began.

On May 1, 1865, freed slaves came together in Charleston, S.C. to pay tribute to the Union soldiers that had been deceased and put into a common burial after the war. There were 257 deceased Union soldiers, according to the American Oracle: The Civil War In the Civil Rights Era, a book written by David Blight a Yale University professor.

This event held over of 10,000 people in the “slaveholders race course.” According to the American Oracle by Blight. Black Charlestonians along with white missionaries and educators stood in honor of the Union soldiers .

Three thousand African American students led the event by singing “John Brown’s Body” while holding arms loads of roses, according to Blight’s book the American Oracle. After the school children, hundred of African American woman followed with possessions of baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses, according to the American Oracle Black men marched, followed by a group of “Union infantry” and a diversity of other black and white citizens, according to

At the event other presentations proceeded from a childrens choir singing selections and black ministers presented scriptures. This event symbolized the blood, sweat and tears each one of the 257 Union soldiers shedded during the war. The 257 Union soldiers were not treated adequately when alive or decease.

“Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand,” according to the American Oracle the First Declaration Day, by Blight.

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