Memorial Day is a sacred occasion when we pay tribute to all the military men and women who have died in service to the United States. It is also an observance that owes its creation to blacks. This tradition began when newly freed slaves decorated the grave sites of Civil War soldiers as a way to honor those who had fought for their freedom. But blacks were not just passive bystanders. Many of volunteered to serve in the military, ensuring they were active in reshaping the United States to be truer to its founding principles.