It’s not just soldiers who die for our freedom
Below you will find a small sample of those who gave their lives for freedom and justice despite not being in uniform. Democracy is something that we must all work and fight for, not just our soldiers. Indeed, I would argue that democracy cannot survive if we expect the military to defend it.
Again, this is just a small sample. Many Americans, from Shays Rebellion through the Occupy Movement have put their lives on the line to fight for freedom and justice. There should be a Memorial Day for them as well.
In 1964, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwermer were killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi for helping to register African Americans to vote.
At the height of civil rights tensions these four little girls, Clockwise from top left: Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), Carole Robertson (aged 14) and Denise McNair (aged 11) were killed. They were on their way to see a sermon in the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Like the three civil rights workers above, they were killed by the KKK.
Reverend James Reeb was killed after the infamous attack on civil rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as Bloody Sunday. The next day, Rev. Reeb was beaten and refused admission to the public hospital in Selma. The delay in his treatment may have been just as responsible for death as was the beatings.
In 1877, railroad workers throughout the country went on strike to protest low pay and unfair and unsafe working conditions. Their strike crippled the nation and was violently suppressed by local police and militia and finally the National Guard under the orders of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Over a hundred people were killed in what became known as the Uprising of 1877. This event is rarely ever taught in American History classes.
In Colorado, 1914, miners working for J. D. Rockefeller went on strike. They had had enough of the low pay, horrible conditions and continued harassment and violence against their union leaders, culminating in the death of a union organizer. Ultimately, Rockefeller and his political connections conspired to put the strike down. Strikers fought back but were no match for the National Guard. Most infamous was the night attack on a tent city in Ludlow in which eleven people, mostly women and children were burned to death after their tent city was set on fire.
You can see more martyrs to freedom at the Southern Poverty Law Center Memorial.