I’m reading “We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year” where a family of five travels together for a year. I’m paused now where they are in Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar and a World Heritage site. When they visit the small museum, they learn that slavery created this cross-cultural outpost.
“Slaves were captured in the interior of Africa, brought to Zanzibar, and then exported to the rest of the world.”
“At the height of the slave trade, sixty thousand humans were trafficked through Zanzibar every year.”
“The exhibit that packed the most emotional punch was on the lawn outside: a full-scale sculpture of several women with chains around their necks looking up from a pit in the ground.”
I had to stop reading to absorb unimaginable numbers and pain.
I always find this an odd weekend to navigate. It began as a way to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.
On May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery James A. Garfield said:
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
After he spoke, 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who are buried there. After World War I, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday to honor all those who’ve died in American wars. It’s a weekend to remember as we move forward to change.