Memorial Day events spread through region this weekend

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Memorial Day was created in 1866 to honor American soldiers who died during the Civil War. Today the holiday honors all American soldiers who died in wars or have served their country.

Ron MacCubbin, president of the Joint Veterans Council, which includes all local veterans groups, said that the ceremonies this Memorial Day will be more important than recent events because this is the first time since the early 1990s that American troops -- especially local troops -- have faced the kind of danger they are in now.

"I think this will be much more meaningful to the families," MacCubbin said. "The fact that we have our own people deployed and in harm's way makes it that much more poignant."

Several area veterans organizations are planning ceremonies to celebrate Memorial Day and are inviting the public to join. In honor of World War II veterans, a prayer breakfast will be held at the Jackson American Legion Hall, located at the corner of Mary and High streets, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Jack Lattimore, secretary of Jackson American Legion Post 158, said the group will watch the national dedication of the World War II Memorial at 1 p.m. and encourages all World War II veterans to attend.

Throughout the day there will be patriotic music and speeches by four American Legion essay contest winners: Amanda Watson, Katie Vangilder, Grace Blades, and Whitney Tankersly. The contest winners are junior and senior high school students who wrote essays on the topic of what World War II meant to their lives. The event is open to the public.

The Mound City National Cemetery, located at the intersection of U.S. 51 and Highway 37 in Mound City, Ill., will also hold its annual Memorial Day program from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Speeches will be given by Fred Moyers, a World War II Air Force veteran and James Crain, Mound City National Cemetery preservation historian.

On Sunday, American Legion Post 63 and the American Legion Auxiliary of Cape Girardeau will hold an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. to celebrate their new location at 2731 Thomas Lane. The open house will be held in conjunction with the World War II Memorial being dedicated Saturday in Washington, D.C. Members of the post will share stories of their experiences as members of the military.

Barbara Yallaly of the auxiliary said the veterans attending the event will include a woman who served in the Coast Guard and a man who was taken prisoner in 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge. The event also will include exhibits from veterans and door prizes.

American Legion Post 63 will join with VFW Post 3838 and the Disabled American Veterans, all of Cape Girardeau,and the Marine Corps League Detachment 1081 in a Memorial Day program at the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday with music by the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band. Ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m. The program will end with a wreath laying.

Flags to remember

The Cape Girardeau VFW post will place 150 flags at Cape County Park in Cape Girardeau to create the Avenue of Flags. Roger Brown, commander of the VFW, said that the flags were purchased by relatives of American veterans to honor deceased veterans.

On Monday the Jackson American Legion will meet at the Old City Cemetery in Jackson at 9 a.m. for a memorial service. Maj. Richard Decker of the U.S. Marine Corps will speak.

In Perryville, Mo., Monday, AmVets Post 94 will join the American Legion Post 133, Disabled American Veterans, and VFW Post 4282 for a parade honoring American veterans. American Legion member Gerald Hoffman said the parade will leave the American Legion Hall at 98 Grand Ave. at 10 a.m. and will continue to the Perry County Courhouse. At the courthouse, there will be music and a speech by the Garry Adams, state commander of AmVets. Members of the American Legion then plan to visit grave sites of veterans buried in Perry County and lay a wreath in Saline Creek to honor American veterans who have died.

In honor of the new memorial for World War II veterans, a program will be held at the American Legion Hall in Perryville at 2 p.m. All World War II veterans in Perry County are invited to attend.

State Rep. Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, will speak. Veterans will be presented with a certificate of appreciation issued by the U.S. government. Family members of deceased veterans also are encouraged to attend. Hoffman said the national memorial is important because it is the first one dedicated to World War II veterans.

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