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home and the memory remained generally with blacks.

The city that plunged the nation into its bloodiest conflict can also lay a claim to holding the first Memorial Day observance honoring the dead from the Civil War.

Blight gave a seminar on the Charleston event here nine years ago and a marker has been placed at the park proclaiming it the site of the nation's first Memorial Day.

The Charleston commemoration was referred to at the time as Decoration Day, as were other early Memorial Day observances.

Two years earlier, in 1866, Waterloo held its first Memorial Day.

The entire community has celebrated the day every year since and, 100 years after that first observance, then President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation designating the town as the birthplace of Memorial Day, said Nancy Newland, the executive director of the Waterloo Library and Historical Society.

"At the end of the day you have to ask does it really matter who is first. But if the issue is what is the first event, Charleston occurred a full year earlier," Blight said.

black churches buried them in individual graves at the site of the camp.

one in white Charleston or the state was interested in remembering the war through this event," he said.

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Hampton Park was originally the Planters Race Course and, during the final months of the Civil War, a hellish open air Confederate prison. A total of 267 Union troops died at the camp, some of whom had been moved from infamous Andersonville in Georgia before it was liberated.

He said memory of the event was suppressed when white Democrats took back control of the state in 1876 and Southern states held their own Confederate Memorial Days.

The dead were originally buried in a mass grave by the Confederates, but after the war, members of Nike Air Max 59

A number of towns around the nation claim holding the first Memorial Day, although the distinction generally goes to the town of Waterloo, in upstate New York.

"As the Lost Cause tradition the Southern, Confederate version of the meaning and memory of the war set in, no Air Max Street

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In the North, in 1868, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered the graves of the war dead be decorated with flowers and memorials.

"What happened in Charleston does have the right to claim to be first, if that matters," said David Blight, a history professor at Yale who has extensively researched the Charleston event.

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The northern troops went Womens Air Max 95 Black

"It involved several thousand freedmen. It had all sorts of official involvement by Union troops and it had the involvement of northern missionaries and teachers who had been teaching at freedmen schools for months," said Blight, also director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition.

Blight, who became familiar with the event while doing research in the late 1990s, said although the Charleston commemoration was reported in the national media it quickly passed from official memory in South Carolina.

An arch over the graveyard entrance identified those buried there as "The Martyrs of the Race Course." The Union dead were later moved to national Nike Air Max 95 Og Qs cemeteries.

In a little known event, as many as 10,000 people, many of them black, gathered May 1, 1865, to hold a parade, hear speeches and dedicate the graves of Union soldiers in what is now Hampton Park in Charleston.

´╗┐Charleston lays claim to first observance of Memorial Day

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