I'm reflecting on my years of teaching history today, so please indulge me. You know I'm a teacher. Even though I had to retire, I still love to teach. Let's talk about Memorial Day. It is a day that has origins not from May 1, 1865. Yes, officially it was in place by Congressional law in 1971.
Let's revisit May 1, 1865. Students, what war? I'm hoping you said Civil War or I may fall out of my wheelchair. Remember our study of the Massachusetts 54th regiment? How every year and block I taught and I cried as they charged Fort Wagner? How they finally gained respect? Then as we continued on through our historical timeline, it took us literally 100 more years to gain social justice for all and more than that for women. That's another lesson.
Former slaves took two weeks to bury fallen Civil War soldiers that late April in 1865. Then, they had a parade to honor those black and white soldiers who gave everything in the mindset of what is true, right, and fair. Hence, whether you want to believe it or not, the first Memorial Day was born. Yes, I know there were many causes of Civil War, and not just slavery. I'm a teacher after all. In the end, the evil establishment of slavery was decimated. Other evils arose to try to take its place and hence another wonderful lesson we shared about marches and lunch counters, but here is what I hoped my students gleaned from my teaching: we all bleed red, right is right and wrong is wrong, and we are all in this together. We have to remember and to fight against racism and prejudice of all kinds. There are so, so many flavors of hate.
Today, we have many walls waiting to be built. I ask myself constantly how this relates to loving our neighbors as we love ourselves here in the Bible belt. Ironic isn't it. Today, evaluate and educate yourself. Remember all of those who fell throughout history that gave their lives so we can enjoy ours. Memorial Day is for remembering all.
Happy Memorial Day,
Ms. Sarah Anderson Alley
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