The American Legion Post 142 in Hominy, Oklahoma conducted extensive Memorial Day observances this year. Thanks to everyone who volunteered and participated. More photos can be seen here.
The following is from the national organization:
Memorial Day gives Americans everywhere a chance to relax for a three-day weekend, head to a neighborhood barbecue or enjoy an auto race or two. But, even amid the most patriotic celebrations of Americana, the true meaning of Memorial Day is often forgotten.
At its core, the holiday formerly known as “Decoration Day” – named for the decorative flowers laid on Civil War-era soldiers’ graves – isn’t meant to signify the rebirth of summer; it’s a time to honor the men and women who have died serving our country and given us the freedom to have family gatherings and backyard barbecues.
Enacted in the mid-1800s as a day of remembrance, Memorial Day became the holiday’s proper nomenclature in 1882. It originally commemorated those who perished during the Civil War, but was extended after World War I to include all Americans killed at war. In 1968, Memorial Day was moved from the middle of May to the final Monday of the month as part of Congress’ Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays – Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Washington’s Birthday – to specified Mondays in their respective months.
At the beginning of Memorial Day, the U.S. flag is traditionally raised to the top of the staff and then lowered solemnly to the halfway point. It remains there until noon, when it is raised to the top of the staff for the remainder of the day. Per a law enacted by Congress in 2000, Americans should also pause at 3 p.m. for a minute of remembrance to ponder the holiday’s true meaning.
Throughout the country, The American Legion is observing the Memorial Day weekend with a number of appearances and activities:
• From Friday morning through Monday evening, volunteers from the Legion’s Washington office are staffing an informational booth on the National Mall near the Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Women’s Memorials. Staffers are passing out Legion brochures, providing VA benefit information, and giving tokens of appreciation to veterans and other interested passersby.
• Friday afternoon, National Adjutant Dan Wheeler served as master of ceremonies at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Indianapolis’ Monument Circle. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard also gave remarks, and National Commander Jimmie Foster in attendance as a guest of honor.
• Beginning Friday night, Legion Riders hailing from Illinois to Virginia are riding their mostly V-twin motorcycles in the spectacle known as Rolling Thunder – a marathon motorcycling event that includes nearly half a million participants. The Rolling Thunder – which includes Legion Executive Director Marty Justis – will finish its run with parade laps around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Pentagon, a truly awesome sight.
• On Memorial Day itself, Vietnam veteran and National Vice Commander William Schrier, a long way from his Pacific Northwest home in Washington state, will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and participate in a similar observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (otherwise known as The Wall).
• Nearby, in Virginia’s Quantico National Cemetery, Executive Director Peter Gaytan of the Legion’s Washington, D.C., headquarters will deliver the keynote address at a Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the Potomac Region Veterans Council.
• Meanwhile, the Legion’s Legislative Division director, Tim Tetz, will appear on a special hour-long CNN Memorial Day broadcast. It will air in both the 9 a.m. and noon hours (EDT).