From Black America Web:

Three years before the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic called on Union veterans’ organizations to decorate the graves of dead soldiers, blacks in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865 launched the first Decoration Day in honor of the Union’s war dead, says Yale University history professor David Blight.

“That ceremony on May 1, 1865 was actually the first recorded Decoration Day or Memorial Day,” said Blight, author of several books, including “Reunion and Race.”

Today, the national observance on the last Monday in May still serves as a day to remember those who died in wars. It’s also mixed with parades, picnics and other displays of patriotism.

Blight was in a Harvard University library doing research for “Reunion and Race” about 15 years ago when he stumbled across a box of unorganized papers of a Union veterans’ organization and a folder with the words “First Decoration Day” written on it.

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