The origins of Memorial Day

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – People across the nation are celebrating Memorial Day, which is a holiday that has a connection to the Lowcountry.

Historians say the first ever Memorial Day celebration took place in Downtown Charleston.

In May 1865, after the Confederate Army evacuated from Charleston, African American ministers, northern missionaries, and Unionists led a parade to honor 250 fallen Union soldiers and members of the Colored Infantries who were buried at Hampton Park in mass graves.

At the time, Hampton Park was the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club that was used by Confederates as a prison for Union soldiers.

Thousands of African American school children, church leaders, and freed people marched in the parade to honor the fallen, whose bodies were later re-interred in Beaufort.

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