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Memorial Day Service on the Square

Posted on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 11:13 am

For the past 25 years a Memorial Day Service has been held on the courthouse square. The 2017 event will be held Monday, May 29, on the Northwest side of the Metro Lynchburg/Moore County Courthouse. Everyone is invited to attend. The event will begin at 11:00 AM with the official welcome from Billy H Thomas, Commander of local American Legion Post 192. Thomas served in the Army and is a Vietnam Veteran. The welcome will be followed with the invocation by Phil Gatto, Army Vietnam Veteran and the crowd will join in The Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem will be sung by Meredith Burton who is the granddaughter of a WWII Veteran. Ken Moore, Navy Veteran of Korea and Vietnam, will take the podium for a special reading. Billy Thomas will introduce the invited speaker, George Hensley, Retired-Air Force Veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam. Hensley was born in Bedford County to a share cropper and grew up moving to different homes every 2 to 4 years. While attending high school in Lynchburg, he lived with several families. Hensley was a standout football player for The Moore County High School Raiders and played on the 1952 Moore County Champion football team. He entered the Military and after a stint with the Army, he joined the Air Force where he served until he retired. Hensley was deployed to Korea and later Vietnam, where he honorably served. Hensley’s Memorial Day address will include remarks about his active military service and life after retirement. He has written 18 gospel Songs and 12 country music songs and has recorded several himself. One his songs reached number 2 in the independent charts. Jable Dean, Army Veteran and one of first five American Soldiers to serve in Vietnam during the early 1950’s, will facilitate the laying of the commemorative wreath. Army-Vietnam Veteran, Billy Glen Bobo, will help with the Flag Raising, followed by Billy Powell, MCHS Student, playing taps. The closing prayer will be offered by Army Veteran Phil Gatto

Memorial Day: A brief history Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” Logan proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as Logan called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971. This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee this special day to memorialize those gave their lives for our freedom. Red Poppies: Memorial Day Tradition In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem: “We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies.” She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it. National Moment of Remembrance The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans to voluntarily and informally observes in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

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