Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Monday, May 31, is Memorial Day, or as my grandmother called it, Decoration Day. That designation emanated from the order of Gen. John Logan in 1868 that appointed May 30th a day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion (the Civil War).” In the middle of every May, I would accompany her to Lakeview Cemetery where around all our deceased relatives graves the decorative bushes were trimmed and tidied and geraniums planted.

As former Gov. William O’Neill used to say, “Who doesn’t like a parade?” And here in East Hampton, we always celebrated Memorial Day with a Parade. Excited kids, streamers and American Flags affixed to bicycles, a Poppy Queen, VFW and American Legion Color Guards, the High School Band, our Town's elected leaders, Fife and Drum Corp., Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cubs and Brownies, and fire engines, organized in formation at the Congregational Church, stepping off at 9:15 sharp!

At Lakeview Cemetery prayers for the honored deceased veterans, an honor guard firing blanks in salute and trumpeters blowing the haunting, echoing, “taps” as all stood in silence and remembrance. Marchers would then continue on to the Congregational Church lawn and the Veterans Memorial.

More prayers, a salute to our Nations Flag and speeches. Following the reading of each veteran’s name laid to rest during the year, a snare drum would paralyze each in attendence as we remembered.

The High School band played stirring pieces such as the Star Spangled Banner or Battle Hymn of the Republic and students would recite “In Flanders Fields” and Lincoln’s unforgettable tribute that began, “Four score and seven years ago….” To this day my eyes tear up whenever I hear these words.

Monday, our National Holiday, is a time to drink in the importance remembering those who served so valiantly for all that we have. I invite you to join the parade.

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