Sunday, May 24, 2009


According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed on May 1, 1865 by liberated slaves at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The site had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died in captivity.

The freed slaves disinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to be buried properly with individual graves, built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch, declaring it a Union graveyard. On May 30, 1868, the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual grave sites.

This established the first recorded Decoration Day. Thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers paraded from the area, followed by much patriotic singing and a picnic.

Today, in addition to national observances, many individual communities hold memorial observance for all fallen soldiers who were from that town by having a ceremony in a church or town memorial park. It is common for fire and police departments to remember and honor members lost in the line of duty.

Towns often hold a Memorial Day parade in honor of such residents. Participation in such a parade is by community organizations and in the City of Kingston's case we will once again gather in front of City Hall this Monday for the ceremony that reminds us annually that Freedom isn't Free. We have and continue to secure our freedoms through blood and treasure every day.

My thanks to the men & women who serve in the armed forces and those who served before them.


Anonymous said...

Your title says it all. Regardless of what people think of past military initiatives, I think we all appreciate what the armed services have sacrificed in life and limb to keep America, and even much of the world as safe as it can be.
I'll see you at the ceremony.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding photograph.
Not enough of us do realise what this holiday is about. As more of our military personnel come home from areas of conflict or from stations around the world, the time to acknowledge those who served becomes more pertinent.
Interesting history on the day.

Anonymous said...

Uh, this is the progressive adopting the slogan of the right-wing patriotic nutjob.
I am beginning to think you should marry Sen. Kissme Jigglyboobs in a marriage of political convenience.

Anonymous said...

I dont think it makes anyone a nutjob to think that there is a cost to keeping our armed forces in operation and that the men & women who serve certainly sacrifice something for the time invested. Some perish in the line of duty. You must agree that there is a cost to maintaining the protections we have. We do police the world these days, and unless the other countries start to contribute their fair share, we will continue to do so. This isn't a left or right issue. It's just American. By embracing the slogan, we can keep it from becoming a tool to divide us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike for your timely tribute in the true spirit of this weekend...smitty

Anonymous said...

Mike- As per our conversation at this great day, celebrated annually in Kington- just returned from the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor. These heroic Americans were abandoned in the Philippines and were able to stop the Japanese onslaught to keep them from invading Australia allowing our country the time to reinforce and commence a long journey that eventually defeated the Japanese after the Abomb was dropped.
You are right - freedom is not free-
Les Tenny, the last commander of these Heroic American men and women read a poem entitled "Freedom isn't Free". Hopefully I taped it and cen get it you to read at one of the CC meetings for Flag Day or Independence Day- or on your own TV show or radio show.
take care and now lets back to working to get you reelected.
Shelly Z

and as a PS to anonymous 8:44 the concept of "freedom isn't free" is not just a slogan for the right wing patriots- an oyxmoron if I ever heard one. It is a fact known by all American- right, left and center-