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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.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

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A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

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Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

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