May 27, 2012
Memorial Day is a day to pause and offer tribute to American service men and women who gave their lives during a military conflict.
Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was established in 1865 by Black Freemen (freed slaves) after the Civil War to commemorate Union soldiers who died for the cause. Later, this federal holiday evolved to pay homage to all of America’s fallen soldiers.
Speaking of the Civil War, I just finished Midnight Rising– John Brown and the Raid that Sparked The Civil War by Tony Horowitz.
John Brown, an abolitionist, made it his life’s work to attempt to end slavery in the United States. Armed with his passionate ideals, only 21 men, and his amassed arsenal, he entered slave-holding Virginia, to, as Frederick Douglas explains, “begin the Civil War.”
Once again, this is a chapter of America’s history which is told mainly through letters and journals..These are handwritten documents with some newspaper articles to support the details.
The author, Tony Horowitz, was moved during his research- …by “the eloquence and literacy of the people at that time. Many of the people were ordinary in terms of their education and background… Yet, they spoke and wrote with this directness and passion, that I think we have lost in this era of twitter and email….I could never get enough of reading these letters even from people with a second grade education who managed to communicate themselves with such heart and honesty, and just wonderful colorful writing…So it was a joy to read and quote from those letters!”
So much of history is preserved in letters. There are volumes of books containing letters from soldiers which give us very personal accounts of the horrors and hardships of war…
Tomorrow, a midst the cookouts and gatherings, remember to say “thank you”– in some way, to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for America.
References and ideas:
- Horowitz, Tony. Midnight Rising – John Brown And The Raid That Sparked The Civil War. Henry Holt & Co. LLC. New York. 2011
- Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia. “Memorial Day.”
- Amazon.com “War Letters.”
- For information on Writing to Soldiers- search “Give Your Write Arm to Pen and Paper” on this website.