The origin story of Memorial Day goes back over 150 years and is still unclear to this day. Several communities across the nation may have independently started memorial gatherings yet one of the earliest commemorations was organized by a group of nearly 10,000 freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865.
Less than a month after the end of the Civil War, a group of emancipated men and women joined together to give proper burial to Union soldiers who fell during the war. Many were left in a mass grave at an old race track. They exhumed the bodies and placed them into a new cemetery with a sign that reads “Martyrs of the Race Course.” On May 1, 1865 10,000 people, a mix of freed slaves and white missionaries, gathered for a parade around the race track, honoring the memory of the fallen soldiers, creating what may have been the first observance of Memorial Day.
Today, we honor the memory of those who have served and fallen in many ways. While many parades have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, there are other traditions that can still be followed. 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day is known as the National Moment of Remembrance and citizens are asked to gather together for one minute of unity to remember those who have served that are no longer with us. While we can’t all gather in person, at 3:00 p.m., MHC’s Facebook page will be playing “Taps”, a bugle call which is traditionally played in remembrance of a fallen soldier at memorial services. We hope that you will join us for this virtual connection.
While some choose to host a cookout or retreat for the long weekend, let us remember that for some of us, this will be a difficult day. If you or a loved one are in need of support or find yourself in crisis, please utilize the below resources.
Veteran Crisis Line – Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or Text 838255 to be connected to a qualified responder with the Dept of Veteran Affairs.
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 1-800-273-8255 24/7, for free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.