Wednesday, May 26, 2010
In the Spirit of Juneteenth: They Fought for Freedom
The legacy of the United States Colored Troops, the black Union soldiers from the American Civil War is a story of extraordinary courage. These were men, who defied their status as men in bondage, and when the opportunity came--they seized the moment, made a dash for freedom and they chose to fight for the freedom of their brethren.
In in the western theatre of the Civil War, black men served and are buried in countless burial grounds. In honor of the spirit of Juneteenth which begins a season of Freedom, the men buried in and around my hometown of Ft. Smith Arkansas are honored in this piece that I put have developed to tell the story and to let others know who they were and that so many of them are buried in Ft. Smith, Van Buren and the eastern Oklahoma community. They deserve to be honored, for many decades have passed when they were never mentioned.
These men of honor rest in quiet dignity, and should never be forgotten for they are Freedom Fighters who should not be fogotten. Their story deserves to be told, and hopefully the next generation of children of all backgrounds will know that these were brave men, honorable men and mighty men.
Over 100 US Colored Troops are buried in Ft. Smith National Cemetery, and others have been documented in Van Buren, at Fairview Cemetery, Dripping Springs Cemetery, and in nearby Oklahoma at Shady Grove, and Brazil Cemetery. My colleague and research buddy Tonia Holleman, and I had the opportunity to document many of these soldiers. She and Verdie Triplett trekked through incredible brush and overgrowth to find Brazil Cemetery and located Mobile Boyd and Thomas Blackwater.
The search to document ancestors buried in abandoned cemeteries is just as important as the quest to honor those in the most elegant of burial grounds. All are important and all deserve to be honored. And as June approaches--the season of Juneteenth begins.
In the spirit of Juneteenth, the US Colored Troops---men of Freedom--ther are therfore are honored. Each one had their own unique story of liberation, enlistment, and service. Although most of those precious stories will never be known, at least we can call their names and I have created this small piece to share their honor with the world.