Updated: Dec 26, 2018
Whenever I visit my friend Kate, I tell her every time, it's always an adventure! Whether it's going to a new gym or nail salon sharing our big personalities or laying wreaths at Arlington National Ceremony in the Freedman's Village...who else knew this was a thing? I didn't. I hate when I learn of something I should have been aware of all along, especially this level of importance during the holidays. FASHION TIP: there's no perfect preparation for what to wear in unexpected constant rain, so Kate dressed me from head to toe. Next on my sewing list: rain coat...two.
What a cool experience this was: waking up a mad-thirty in the morning, Kate looks out the blinds and says "Oh it's raining like crazy out here! But nothing that a good cup of Starbucks coffee won't fix." So off we go to Starbucks and the drive to Arlington National Ceremony to stand in line with thousands of others from all over the country, or maybe the world I would bet. Met some wonderful people in line and the education continued. Kate is my personal historian when it comes to Arlington Cemetery, I think it's her favorite of part of history when it comes to soldiers at war. She knows every rolling hill of the cemetery, final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. Saturday, December 15 was National Wreaths Across America Day, where wreath laying events are coordinated at National Memorials across the country, abroad and at sea. Thousands of volunteers come to Arlington National and place a wreath the headstones. One at a time, saying a prayer and thanking that person for their service. Among them were some titles “Unknown” and some with just a last name with “Boy” or “Girl”. We intentionally visited Section 27 the Freedman's Village to lay wreaths in this area. Who knew about this too! African-American History at Arlington National Cemetery Civil War
Over sixteen-thousand Civil War soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Among these are many U.S. Colored Troops (the U.S. government designation for African-Americans who served in segregated U.S. Army regiments during the war) buried in sections 27 and 23. Their headstones are marked with the Civil War shield and the letters U.S.C.T. Three of these men are Medal of Honor recipients. Although 180,000 African-Americans served with Union forces, less than 100 of them were officers. Maj. Alexander T. Augusta (section 1, site 124) was the first black surgeon in the Army. Although given an officer's rank, he was paid black enlisted wages during much of his service. Freedman's Village was established on the southeast portion of the Arlington Estate in June 1863, as a camp for Civil War "Contrabands" (the U.S. government designation for slaves who were freed as Union forces moved South, or who had escaped from local Virginia and Maryland slave owners). The village was run by the Freedmen's Bureau during most of its existence, and at one point employed U.S.C.T. to protect fugitive slaves from their former slave owners. Existing for more than 30 years, Freedmen's Village provided housing, education, training for employment, medical care and food for the former slaves. Homes in the village were wooden and housed two to four families each. Villagers lived mostly on crops they grew themselves or on Army rations. There were frequent outbreaks of scarlet fever, measles and whooping cough. The average death rate was two-per-day, which was lower than the five-per-day average in Washington, D.C. Although living on the Arlington Estate, burials of residents of the village occurred off the property, in a separate cemetery from Arlington. However, Section 27, the original burial ground at Arlington National Cemetery, contains over 3,800 Freedmen who were residents of other villages in the area or employed in some capacity by the U.S. government during the war.
We layed wreaths here, thanking them for their service.