More

You might not have heard about this in history class, but it's a powerful post-Civil War story.

"I'm much more interested in the meaning that's being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who's first."

You might not have heard about this in history class, but it's a powerful post-Civil War story.

Memorial Day marks the day each year when Americans honor the country's fallen soldiers.

Falling on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971. The holiday often is celebrated with parades, picnics, and just some general patriotism. It along with Labor Day serve as unofficial bookends to the "summer season."


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Interestingly enough, the exact origin of the holiday remains a hot topic of debate, with a number of locations around the U.S. taking credit for starting the tradition.

Was it in Waterloo, New York, in 1866 that sparked nationwide celebrations? Or maybe Major Gen. John Logan's May 30, 1868, observance that kicked things off?

Regardless of who celebrated it first, people have been honoring fallen soldiers in Memorial Day-like traditions for quite some time.

One of the earlier, lesser-known stories involving these types of traditions was that of Charleston, S.C., in 1865.

In the spring of 1865, the Civil War came to an end with the Confederacy's surrender. In total, somewhere between 618,000 and 850,000 men died over the course of the four-year war.

With the war over, the almost exclusively black population of Charleston began the long process of picking up the pieces of the torn city.

Images by PBS.

Toward the end of the war, Washington Race Course was used as a prisoner-of-war camp for Union soldiers.

More than 200 Union soldiers died while being held at the racecourse, most to disease and exposure. At the time, those men were buried in large mass graves.

The bodies were buried behind the racecourse's grandstand, and so the men, women, and children of Charleston decided to do what they thought best and most respectful: they offered the bodies a proper burial.

The celebration began with the building and painting of a fence with the words: "Martyrs of the racecourse."

Yale professor and author David Blight did some of the most in-depth coverage on those April and May 1865 events.

Blight has made the argument that this is the actual first Memorial Day celebration, but as mentioned above, it's not really known whether or not this is what influenced the first official day.

He described the events like this:

"At nine o'clock in the morning on May 1, the procession to this special cemetery began as three thousand black schoolchildren marched around the racecourse, each with an armload of roses and singing 'John Brown's Body.' The children were followed by three hundred black women representing the Patriotic Association, a group organized to distribute clothing and other goods among the freed people. The women carried baskets of flowers, wreaths, and crosses to the burial ground. The Mutual Aid Society, a benevolent association of black men, next marched in cadence around the track and into the cemetery, followed by large crowds of white and black citizens. ... This was their way of saying what the war meant to me and what America means to me. They were now freed men and women." — David Blight

Does it really matter who started Memorial Day? Maybe not. As Blight has said, "I'm much more interested in the meaning that's being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who's first."

Watch David Blight elaborate on the story of what happened those days in Charleston, S.C. in this PBS clip.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."