Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day More Than A Parade

Joyelle Freeman


Memorial Day is known to some as the unofficial start of summer. It is used for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events.

For others, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s military service.

Neil Fowler of Athens says coming out for the memorial "is the least we can do."

Neil Fowler of Athens talks about why he came out to support the veterans.

Many Southeastern Ohio residents came out Monday to celebrate with a parade and memorial ceremony.

The festivities, which included the Athens High School band, started at Court Street and ended at the West Union Street Cemetery.

While those in attendance, an overall older crowd, are more likely to remember the history behind the day, many younger people may not know its importance.

Nettie Miller of Albany says young people "don't quite know what's going on," in reference to Memorial Day. She says she is disappointed in the younger generation's lack of knowledge about the day.

Nettie Miller of Albany talks about how young people don't know enough about Memorial Day

Historical Significance

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. It was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves.

President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y. as the official birthplace of Memorial Day, because on May 5, 1866, the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event.

It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Randy Morris of Athens gave a speech at the West Union Street Cemetery in Athens, and says he wants people to "remember the day."

Col. Randy Morris of Athens talks about why people should remember on Memorial Day.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day Today

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave.

Also, the president or vice-president usually gives a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Athens Veterans

The Athens County Veterans Service Commission reports that there are approximately 5,000 veterans still living in Athens County.

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