Thursday, May 21, 2009


Memorial Day is right around the corner. This celebration frequently stirs-up fond memories for most of us of the “beginning of summer”, family picnics, parades, visiting cemeteries, flying American flags, the first water activities of the year and the Indianapolis 500.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially appointed May 30, 1868 to commemorates U.S. men and women who have been killed in military action. However, “according to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died in captivity. The freed slaves re-interred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard and built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard. This was a daring action for them to take in the South shortly after the North's victory. On May 30, 1868, the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the first Decoration Day. A parade by thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers from the area was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.”

While I certainly have no objections to remembering the 1,194,198 military service members killed in American Wars, I wonder why we don’t have a day of rememberance for the 20-40 million Native Americans needlessly annihilated or for the 15-20 million Africans who died in the slave trade, all for the purpose of American power, prosperity and imperialism?

In fact, as a country which claims to be “Christian”, I wonder why America has never set aside a day to remember and honor the estimated 70 Million Christians who have died for their faith or the 171,000 Chrisitans worldwide who are martyred each year?

I wonder, is this an indication that Americans believe that dying for one’s country is more important than demonstrating love to other human beings or dying for one’s faith in Jesus?


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