Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day--more than a car race

My first memories of Memorial Day go back to the tiny town I was raised in and my dad’s famous potato salad and celebratory first-grilled-hamburgers-of-the-season. When I was in junior high and high school and in the marching band, I participated in the Memorial Day parade that went down the main street in town and ended at the American Legion just across the railroad tracks. I stood at attention during the ceremony—a solemn salute to people I didn’t know and wars I difficult to comprehend.

The history of what we now call Memorial Day is interesting. Held on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and it was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to honor those killed in the Civil War by decorating their graves.

In some small way, my family tries to pay our respects to veterans by attending the ceremonies held here in Old Town on Memorial Day. I appreciate the efforts to honor those who are no longer here, to take some time remember them somehow even though I never knew them, and to help my kids know the meaning of the holiday and its origins. I feel that since they’re in such close proximity to the Indy 500 it would be easy for them to think it’s a holiday devoted to a car race.

Ceremonies this year start at the Courthouse lawn at 11 AM with the past commander of the American Legion giving a speech, followed by a 21 gun salute and Taps. The next stop is Riverside Cemetery, located off of 5th Street along the banks of the White River, where veterans names will be read, then the procession will move to Crownland Cemetery on Monument St. where there will be a short ceremony. Following the ceremony, all attendees are invited to the American Legion at 1094 Conner Street for lunch.

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