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Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They
Educational Video: The History of Memorial Day http://www.teachervision.fen.com/memorial-day/video/73217.html President Barack Obama explains the origins of Memorial Day in this educational video. Students will learn about Memorial Day traditions and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's paired with three classroom activities for grades K-5.
snopes.com: Origins of Memorial Day Claim: Former slaves reburied dead Union prisoners of war and held a cemetery dedication ceremony in Charleston in May 1865, one of the first known observances of Memorial Day. TRUE Read more at http://www.snopes.com/military/memorialday.asp#qI9rgBAcybMslOPr.99