I wrote this story to tell at our UU church in Laguna a few years ago. it is my first short story.
BTW, i know the likely hood of there being any Muslims fighting in the Civil war is slim to none, but it is written for today’s child and i wanted it to be very inclusive.
Come dear children and I will tell you story.
A story of dignity and honor.
Many years ago, in fact the year was 1865, just after the end of the civil war. Some ladies were walking home from church.
They were pleased to be walking, as it had not been safe to walk anywhere for nearly 4 years,because of the war, even on ones own land.
As they walked along they spoke of how things had changed. One thing that had changed for the good, it that slavery had been abolished ( that means that slavery had ended) but yet the cost was high. 600,000 Americans died.
Mother Earth, America, had changed. She seemed, well, wounded. Trees downed like broken bones, burned building were like open sores. Sadness blanketed the south, weighing heavy on her peoples, Plants and all living things.
America was so sad.
The ladies turned around the bend and what they saw stopped them right in their track’s. It was a small field, one that they had played in as children but now, it was strewn with trash, things that had been abandoned when the war ended. Like: old clothes, Nap sacks, the remains of slave shanties and burned timbers from buildings, and they were all surrounded by weeds, taller than a child.
Then one of the ladies shouted out to the others:
“Oh my goodness, come look!” she cried.
Though the weeds and trash she saw a grave marker! As they looked more closely they could see that this had been a battle field and when that battle was over, the dead were buried right where they had been slain
JOHN SHOT DEAD IN THIS SPOT JULY 1864
CONFEDERATE (that means someone who is from the Southern United States)
JIM -BOB FELL DEAD HERE JULY 1864
YANKEE ( that means someone from the Northern United States.)
ARNOLD AND ARTHER BROTHERS
YANKEE, CONFEDERATE JULY 1864
Many families had been torn apart by this war
It went on and on so many graves, so many Americans.
This field one that had been a place of joy was now a graveyard. Holy ground, and this was no way to keep it.
So these ladies ran home as fast as they could and when they returned they had changed in to their working clothes. Bringing with them bucket ‘s, scrub brushes and tools for gardening
Then they got to work!
They put all the wood that could be saved off to the side to be reused. (there were many homeless people and every little bit of salvageable wood was saved to help build new homes.)
They pulled all the weeds.
They burned all the trash.
They Planted flower seeds .
And they scrubbed the grave makers each and everyone, with the same love, like a mother bathes her muddy child.
It did not matter if they were confederate or Yankee.
It did not matter if they were white or of color.
It did not matter if they were Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Humanist.
They were all children of the universe, and all were loved by someone.
And so lovingly they cleaned and decorated Putting flowers on every grave consecrating the whole field with sage, prayer, song and the spirit of peace
When they had finished their work they stepped back and looked at the old park.
Now a graveyard.
It was teaming with life! The birds were singing, the squirrels and rabbits darted back and forth playing hide and seek among the stones and flowers.
And the ladies fell their knees and said a prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifice these American solders had made and resolved to come and clean every year, they would call it:
Decoration day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.
We now call it Memorial day.
Sometimes, they would meet for tea in the graveyard and as they worked on their samplers or knitting or even if they just sat and gossiped
The fallen one’s would be surrounded by the sounds of life and love and home
And that is one of the stories of how Memorial first came to be.
Dear children may you always know peace.