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Memorial Day and how Milwaukee honors the sacrifices from war

The voices of fallen soldiers are not reflected in the simple stone marker planted by their final resting place. Their stories are not inscribed between the numbered dates of their entering the world and leaving it. But the sheer vastness of their existence at Wood National Cemetery speaks volumes to their love of home and country, should visitors take a moment to listen.

To many residents of Milwaukee, Monday, May 29 marks the unofficial start of summer vacation for schools, more than the solemn holiday of loss it remembers. The federal holiday honors the people who dіеd while serving in the nation’s armed forces. Many people confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day, which is the time to honor all service members who are living or not.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, after the American Civil War in 1868, when veterans established it as a time for the battle weary country to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions merged into Memorial Day, and eventually recognized all Americans who dіеd while in the military service.

But for the thousands of “original” Americans who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their people, those numbers remain uncounted. On Memorial Day, they are invisible. While monuments to Rebel dead exist across almost every town of the old Confederacy, memorials to the American Indian resistance are practically non-existent.

So on Memorial Day, which is a day of memory for the soldiers who froze at Valley Forge, or took bullets at Fort Wagner, or were blown up at Khe Sanh, the dеаths of those who resisted theft and genocide should also be honored. If white men who fought to protect the institution and enslavement of Africans can be remembered and called American heros, it is time to honor those original Americans who struggled to protect their homes and culture. Milwaukee was founded on Indian land, and just because the city saw no battles during the Civil War, its people still joined the cause of freedom just like the native citizens who also made the ultimate sacrifice for their own.

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