Before Memorial Day… there was Decoration Day

Dear Reader:

As I was listening to the local news yesterday morning one reporter announced that Charleston mayor, John Tecklenburg, was attending Decoration Day at Hampton Park in downtown Charleston.

Few people know that Memorial Day started out being called Decoration Day from the idea of decorating graves of the fallen dead from the Civil War.

This remembrance has its roots in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Gullah heritage. In fact the first Decoration Day was May 1 1865… held in Charleston, South Carolina… dubbed as the memorial for the dead in the ” City of the Dead.”

Charleston was in ruins with dead carcasses of animals strewn in alleys and yards while the populace tried to bury the human dead.

On May 1, 1865, thousands of former slaves, Union soldiers, and missionaries honored Union soldiers who had died in a Confederate Charleston prison and were buried in a makeshift mass grave.

They were all reinterred in new graves with flowers and colorful ribbons on each burial site.

Decoration, now Memorial Day, became an official federal holiday in 1971-it marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season.

Today each year on Memorial Day a National moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time.

Famous Lowcountry artists Dianne Britton and Jonathan Green have several pieces of Gullah artworks dedicated to this historical day in Charleston.

Jonathan Green

So until tomorrow…Gratitude for those who came before us-the high price of freedom and democracy

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Before Memorial Day… there was Decoration Day

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    So interesting…


    • Becky Dingle says:

      What I love about Charleston…so much history layered upon layers upon layers…always something new to discover.


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