Remembering the Cost

Since America's founding more than two hundred years ago, there have been many wars. At that time, the United States was at war with England. Not long after, there were two Barbary Coast Wars. Then came the War of 1812. Texas fought a war for its independence from Mexico. Then came the Mexican-American War. Next was the Civil War.

The Civil War is known for being America's bloodiest war. Hundreds of thousands of young men were killed during the Civil War. It was a war fought between two regions of the United States - the Union North and the Confederate South. It was a war that divided a nation. After four long years of fighting, the Union defeated the Confederacy in 1865.

After the end of the war, Southern slaves who had been freed by Union soldiers wanted to honor them. A crowd of approximately ten thousand free African-Americans gathered at a cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. They honored the Union soldiers buried there with sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds. Graves were cleaned up and decorated. That was the first memorial service of its kind. It is often recognized as the first Memorial Day in America.

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