A day for reverence
“The 30th day 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 … In this observance, no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”
-John A. Logan, “General Order No. 11,” May 5, 1868
Memorial Day is a day to remember the dead – to honor those who died while defending the United States and its ideals.
It is not a day for celebration, such as the Fourth of July. It is a day for reverence.
And that is what more than 100 people did Monday in South Lake Tahoe, turning out for the annual services at the Happy Homestead Cemetery. The American Legion, Navy Junior ROTC, Boy Scouts, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Veteran’s of Foreign Wars and Marine Corps League and others quietly honored fallen veterans.
“It was excellent as it always is,” said Bill Kerr of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and Marine Corps League. “The cemetery was beautiful with all the flags and perfect weather.”
“(We do this each year) to honor the dead, to remember the people who made the supreme sacrifice,” said Paul Lyman, commander of the Stella van Dyke Johnson Post 795 of the American Legion. “I think it’s very important. We appreciate all the people who come out and attend.”
“It’s important for the reason that the people who fall in war and sacrifice their lives be remembered by generation after generation,” said Eugene Ross, commander of VFW Post 2627. “They paid the ultimate price- a lot of them did.”
Carson City resident Ruth Devine attends the services each year. Her husband Charles, a World War II veteran, died in 1977 and is buried in the Happy Homestead Cemetery.
“I come just to remember him and to do him honor,” she said Monday. “I think Memorial Day is very important. We don’t ever want to forget the sacrifice these guys made.”
Later in the day, a new Veterans Monument was unveiled at the El Dorado County Library. It was the culmination of two years of planning and coordination by the local VFW post, and as many people turned out for it as for the morning service.
“This is very important,” said Alice Roddenberry, a Marine Corps veteran and Stateline resident who attended the event. “The younger generation doesn’t know what war is like and what it entails. They need the opportunity to learn, to be taught. All veterans everywhere need to be remembered for what they did.”
The origins of Memorial Day can be traced back to the Civil War. John A. Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11 to cherish “the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe.”
He established May 30 as Decoration Day. Soldiers were to spend time cleaning up or decorating the graves of fallen comrades.
Now it is called Memorial Day and is celebrated throughout the country on the last Monday in May.
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