The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetary Memorial, 1001 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia

My husband and I were driving through Alexandria and noticed this cemetery. Our interest in Civil War history compelled us to stop and visit the memorial. First of all, I was struck by the sculpted narratives of newly freed people, such as the one depicted above, which evoked a deep reverence and respect for those represented there. During the Civil War, self-emancipated people sought Alexandria as a refuge from the violence of slavery.

The opened in 2014 at the burial site of over 1800 refuges to honor the memory of freedmen, women and children, the hardships they faced and the contributions they made to the City of Alexandria.

It’s my guess that the sculpted scene above shows a teacher in the process of educating young children. Acquiring an education was one of the most important tools the freemen, women and children could obtain, marking a path to higher economic and cultural achievement.

I can imagine their joy at reaching safety and being thankful escaping a life of poverty and degradation. As we gather round the table during this Thanksgiving weekend, let us remember those who have come before us, who laid down the pavement by which all of us walk toward enlightenment today.

Published by Malanna Carey Henderson

Malanna Carey Henderson is a Detroit native who presently resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her adoptive city is rich in history. America's early colonial period and four major battles of the Civil War have marked its landscape. George Washington, his mother, sister, and brother-in-law attended the same church of which Malanna is a member. As a child, Malanna was an avid reader. Her favorite genres were biographies, mysteries, and historical fiction. The more books she read, the greater the urge to write grew. Malanna's creative attributes encompass playwriting, composing music, and singing. She has won two first-place awards for her one-act plays. On the Wings of Freedom is a book that combines several genres: a quest for social justice, adventure, and romance. The backdrop is 19th-century America. Here, the legal practices of the antebellum south are tested against the principles of freedom and democracy. On the Wings of Freedom is Malanna's first novel.

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