Although it’s become the first official weekend for summertime picnics, family get-togethers, camping and boating, Memorial Day was originally established to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Decoration Day was established to be observed May 30. Major General John A. Logan ordered his posts to decorate the graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime.” The first large observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
After World War I, the day was expanded to include honoring all those who have died in all American wars. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the country. The custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.
Over the years, nearly 25 cities in the North and South observed Decoration Day and claimed the title as the birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day.
In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday. Although it is sometimes still called Decoration Day, it is observed on the last Monday in May.
In December, 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance Act (P.L. 106-579) was signed into law to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by arranging and coordinating commemorations.
All Americans are encouraged to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have made the greatest sacrifice.
The communities of Wilton and Durant will observe Memorial Day with special services of their own. The schedules are as follows:
The Durant American Legion Post #430 will be holding its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 27 at the Durant Cemetery starting at 9:30 a.m. The citizens of Durant and surrounding communities are encouraged to attend. In case of bad weather, the ceremony will be held in the Durant High School Gymnasium at 9:30 a.m.
The Wilton American Legion and Auxiliary Post #584 will hold the Memorial Day parade, service and lunch on Monday, May 27 beginning with the parade at 9 a.m. in front of the Wilton City Hall.
Services begin at 9:30 a.m. at Oakdale Cemetery. The public is invited.
• Master of Ceremonies, Roger Bender, American Legion Post #584 Commander.
• Raising of the flag at Soldier’s Monument, American Legion Post #584.
• National Anthem, WHS band and audience.
• Decorating the Soldier’s Monument, Scouts and children.
• Invocation, Pastor Jennifer Jennings of Wilton First Presbyterian Church.
• Pledge of Allegiance led by Scouts and Leaders Ritchie Creamer and Katrina Harkness.
• Speaker, Zach Wahls, Iowa Senator.
• Girls’ State Representative Abby Brown reading “In Flander’s Field.”
• Boys’ State Representative Colby Brown giving “America’s Answer.”
• Auxiliary members Jane Kreimeyer, Kelli Pedersen and Becky Hansen reading the roll call of deceased servicemen.
• Auxiliary Treasurer Terri Becker reading “What Is a Gold Star Mother?”
• Auxiliary member Jan Carstens reading “Gold Star Mothers” written by Vi Hull.
• Patriotic musical selection by WHS band under the direction of Pete Wyatt, “The Liberty Bell March” by John Philips Sousa.
• Girls’ State Representative Abby Brown reading a Memorial Day Poem.
• Benediction by Pastor Jennifer Jennings.
• Salute to War Dead at Soldier’s Monument by American Legion Post #584.
• Taps played by band member Sean Odegard.
• Echo played by band member Meggan Hook.
• Lowering of the flag by the American Legion Post #584.
Lunch will be served at the American Legion Hall, 102 W. Railroad Street.
In case of rain, there will be no parade and the service will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the Wilton School Auditorium with lunch being served at the Wilton High School cafeteria following the service.