Singing has not only been a part of United States history for hundreds of years but it has a special relationship to Memorial Day.
Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, abolished slavery on Sept 22, 1862 with his revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation. While this did not solve the Nation's overall problem with equality and diversity, it was a pivotal moment in our Nation's history and began progress in the right direction.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is one of the many reasons why he is/was widely regarded as the greatest President of the United States. Fast forward a couple of years to May of 1865 and the location is Charleston, South Carolina (which, at the time, had been one of the Confederate states).
A group of freed slaves and supporters created a celebration at the Washington Race Course, which was previously a prison camp for captured Union soldiers during the Civil War and, as a result, hundreds of Union soldiers were buried there.
Ten thousand freed slaves and supporters converged on Washington Race Course to celebrate their freedom on May 1, 1865. As part of their celebration, there were sermons, picnics and, of course, Singing! This party was named Declaration Day which is now called... Memorial Day!
For years, the ceremony was largely forgotten. It wasn't until many years later that a researcher was at the Harvard University Library and stumbled upon the personal writings of a Union soldier that happened to be at Washington Race Course that infamous day and it turns out that there was MUCH Singing.
The celebration began with the reading of a Psalm and they sang a Hymn and prayed. Everyone carried a bouquet of flowers in honor of the Union soldiers that gave their lives helping to abolish slavery.
They threw flowers from their bouquets on the graves of the lost soldiers while singing "The Star Spangled Banner," "America," and "Rally Round The Flag," and other celebratory songs.
Hat tip: Ethan at Singing Success.