I had always thought it was Union General John Logan who started the idea of “honoring our fallen”, but according to this new article it appears that concept originated from a different group of people in a far-away land.
On 1 May, “in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers”, 3,000 black children bearing roses led women bearing wreaths and men, marching together in a circle to honor the newly-buried war dead. Black troops were present at the commemoration – including some of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (who were later memorialized in the movie Glory). That the Gullah people performed a march and parade in a circle was no accident: movement in a circle – the Ring Shout – was the most sacred rite brought by the enslaved to North America. In a mixture of African and American custom, the Gullah put to rest the Union soldiers, who in part, lost their lives to ensure the freedom of those who later marched for them. Black people and white marched together, and the site was dedicated as a memorial burial ground. As the children sang “The Star Spangled Banner”, the men and women wept and prayed as they expressed gratitude that the long nightmare of slavery was over.
Take a moment and read the whole story as it is quite interesting how and WHY this all started.