Below is a poem I found on Chronicling America last week and I’ll be reciting this poem later today at the 148th annual celebration of Emancipation Day.
EMANCIPATION DAY BY MRS. MARY E. KAIL
Originally read by Milton Holland at the Emancipation Banquet, Washington, DC April 13th, 1883
Sound aloud the trump of freedom,
Let the answering echo ring,
While with liberty commanding,
We our heartfelt tribute bring;
As we gather round Columbia,
Let us scatter on the way
Flowers of love and flowers of trusting,
For Emancipation Day.
Let us pray for benedictions
While we bow in reverence low
At the shrine of noble heroes
Bravely charging on the foe.
Gladly we hear our welcome,
To this feast of Liberty.
Lo, the car of progress moving,
Over all Columbia’s land;
Gifted men are proudly coming
And we take them by the hand–
Men of different race and color,
Yet our peers in soul and brain,
And their names shall soon be sculptured
On the towering dome of fame.
Float aloft the stars of glory,
For we love to tell the story
That is written on the pages
Of Columbia’s record true:
How amid the cannon’s rattle,
And the shot and shell of battle,
Chains of living death were broken
By our gallant boys in blue!
Ah! our soldiers never faltered;
Never heeded they the gloom;
Quailed not when the shock of battle
Seemed the eternal knell of doom;
But with comrades pale and bleeding
Only heard Columbia pleading–
“Wipe away from my escutcheon
Every trace of human woe.
Let my rightful sons and daughters
Of whatever race they be,
Hear the clarion voice of heroes,
Making way for liberty.
Let no cloud of dark oppression,
Linger in Columbia’s sky,
Let the joyful shout of freedom
Rise aloft to God on high!”
Days were dark and fierce the struggle–
Can it be the day is lost?
Came from many an anguished mother,
As she reckoned up the cost,
Of the blood and of the treasure,
Given freely without measure,
As the price of liberty.
But amid the desolation,
Spreading o’er our glorious land
Came the news– Emancipation,
Has been reached– the proclamation,
Far above the cannon’s roar
Sounded loud, o’er hill and valley.
Bells were ringing, hearts were singing
As they never sung before.
For the shackles had been broken,
And four millions souls were free,
That ’till then had never tasted
Of the joys of liberty!
And to-day we gladly greet them,
As we gather ’round to meet them,
And to take them by the hand–
Men whose throbbing souls ignited
At the watch-fires freedom lighted.
Freedom’s altar fires, still burning
Flash and sparkle at each turning,
As the car of progress moving,
Rolls them on to nobler fame.