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Freedom for ThemselvesNorth Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era$
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Richard M. Reid

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831748

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807837276_reid

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(p.323) Conclusion
Freedom for Themselves

Richard M. Reid

University of North Carolina Press

This book concludes with what can be considered the most famous Memorial Day address in American history. In this speech, Oliver Wendell Holmes attempted to give meaning to the sacrifices of the Civil War soldiers who had served on both sides of the conflict, as well as to their families and to later generations. In doing so, he tried to bridge the complexities of a conflict that involved millions of men and their dependents, and to speak to shared experiences. Most of all, Holmes wanted to show that the war had allowed the participants to be part of something larger than themselves. While much of his speech would have resonated deeply with North Carolina's black veterans, other aspects of his address would have stood out as describing someone else's war.

Keywords:   Memorial Day address, American history, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Civil War soldiers, shared experiences, black veterans

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