Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You!

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Please enjoy this reprised/updated edition of “Break It Down!” This post was originally published May 30, 2012 at:

OK, so Memorial Day was earlier this week. You may be familiar with my holiday week philosophy, which is: make it easy on the readers, who are always otherwise engaged, no matter the holiday. Of course, in the process, I am also giving myself a break. That makes for a natural win-win scenario.

With that overarching thought in mind, I will endeavor to apply three elementary rules of effective communication:

  • Utilize the KISS PrincipleAKAKeep It Short & Simple (also Keep It Simple Stupid)
  • Convey new or “not widely circulated” information
  • Always remember to emphasize points 1 and 2 above

Memorial Day is a federal holiday, observed the last Monday in May, to honor America’s fallen soldiers. It originated after the Civil War. Falling between Easter and Independence Day, it is often equated with a late spring break, or a pre-summer respite. In fact, many consider it the unofficial first weekend of summer, contrasted with the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, which for many signals the unofficial end of summer.

The holiday weekend typically includes a cornucopia of sports. For example Memorial Day 2016 weekend’s events included matches from the  French Open, the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600, a Game 7 in the NBA Conference FinalsCollege Men’s Baseball playoffs, College Women’s Softball competition, and Championships in Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse, coincidentally, both won by teams from the University of North Carolina, among other sports.

With the rapidly heating-up political season thrown in the mix, the holiday is sometimes almost lost in the shuffle, especially this year with Donald Trump totally reinventing the GOP Presidential race, and Bernie Sanders fashioning his own brand of revolution in the Democratic Party’s race. But wait; Memorial Day also has a special cultural significance. In fact, it is because of that nexus we should pay special homage to this late spring holiday.

The first well-known observance of a Memorial Day type was held May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. Over 250 Union soldiers that had been prisoners of war, died in Charleston, and were quickly buried in makeshift graves. A group of blacks, mostly freedmen, organized the observance and led cleanup and landscaping of the burial site.

Most of the nearly 10,000 people who attended were freedmen and their families. Of that number, 3.000 were children, newly enrolled in freedman’s schools. Mutual aid societies, black ministers, and white Northern missionaries were also in attendance.

David W. BlightProfessor of American History at Yale University, and Director of the school’s Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, described the day this way:

“This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the War had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”

Professor Blight conceded there is no evidence that the Charleston event led directly to the establishment of Memorial Day across the country. But the record is clear they formed the earliest truly large-scale event, complete with media coverage. Their effort was the prototype, if not the catalyst.

Having said that, I believe I honored the rules established above for this post:

  • Told this story in a direct and uncomplicated fashion
  • Presented information I am confident most readers did not know
  • Recognized points 1and 2, were accomplished and closed the post

Enjoy your bonus time, and be sure to reflect on “Memorial Day: What Your Teachers Never Told You!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the links or

A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

2 thoughts on “Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s