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.