Memorial Day Was Founded On North-South Reconciliation—Remember North-South Reconciliation?
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Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War, and is one reason why November 11 (Remembrance Day in the Anglosphere, Veterans Day in the US) is less of a big deal in the U.S. than in England or Canada—by the time of the Armistice in 1918, the US had already had its own massively destructive internecine war.

And while there are states where Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated separately from Memorial Day, what could be called the very first Memorial Day was a joint affair in Columbus, Mississippi, as noted by science fiction writer Travis Corcoran below:

That’s from the Wikipedia article on Memorial Day:

Following Mary William’s call for assistance,[7] four women of Columbus, Mississippi a day early on April 25, 1866, gathered together at Friendship Cemetery to decorate the graves of the Confederate soldiers. They also felt moved to honor the Union soldiers buried there, and to note the grief of their families, by decorating their graves as well. The story of their gesture of humanity and reconciliation is held by some writers as the inspiration of the original Memorial Day.[31][32][33][34]

I noted this in a 2010 article here—the women of Columbus, Mississippi famously decorated the graves of soldiers on both sides in April of 1866, giving rise to a celebrated poem by Francis Miles Finch:

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

The Blue And The Gray, 1867


There have been enough foreign wars since then that Northern and Southern bodies are found in military cemeteries in about equal measure. That North and South were fighting external enemies together was part of the Great Reconciliation that is described in Paul H. Buck’s 1937 book, The Road to Reunion 1865-1900, which you can download for free from (This book is now unpopular—and so is the actual postCivil War reconciliation.)

Of course, as you can see from the white hands on the cover of the Vintage Book edition of Road To Reunion, 19th and 20th century Americans thought of the reconciliation as being between two groups of white Americans—which it was—see this classic photo from the 1913 50th Anniversary Reunion at the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The two groups of white people reconciled, but the Civil Rights era (increasing the political power of unreconciled blacks) and the era of mass immigration have led to a de-reconciliation, with the destruction of monuments, and incredible amounts of hate speech against Confederate-Americans.

The people who hate Confederates also hate American soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars, who fought in the Philippine Insurrection, who fought in Vietnam, or in the War on Terror, because all those involve fighting against non-whites.

We patriots may disagree retrospectively with some decisions to go to war, but we do honor the dead themselves.

One dead man we don’t think worthy of honor is the man Joe Biden has started tweeting about every Memorial Day—George Floyd:

Floyd, an ex-convict and drug addict, chose the Memorial Day weekend of 2020 to try to pass a counterfeit bill, leading to his arrest, and his death—probably from a drug overdose—when he resisted arrest. As Confederate memorials and statues of Teddy Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus fell, memorials to George Floyd rose.

On this Memorial Day, I resolve not to think about him at all.

Previous Memorial Day Columns:


James Fulford [Email him] is writer and editor for

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