This Memorial Weekend, combined with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, brought tourists out to the natural beauty and varied events of the North Olympic Peninsula, but today, people will mark the real, and solemn, meaning of the holiday.
“Memorial Day is a sacred day to all veterans,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6787 Commander Rod Lee of Carlsborg.
“By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory by honoring their service and sacrifice.”
The United States has fought 12 major wars and numerous smaller skirmishes in its history.
“Memorial Day is how we honor the soldiers, sailors, airmen, airwomen, and Marines who did not return home,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The holiday dates back to the months immediately following the Civil War, when a few locales began honoring their war dead.
In 1868, General John A. Logan — at the time the head of an organization for Union veterans, later a U.S. senator from Illinois, and the man for whom Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., is named — called for May 30 to be designated “Decoration Day.” The holiday was renamed Memorial Day after World War I, and its purpose became to honor all Americans who have died fighting the nation’s wars. Since 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated on the last Monday in May.
Remembrances will begin this morning.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6787, Carlsborg, will present a public ceremony at Mt. Angeles Memorial Park at 9:30 a.m. today.
The ceremony will include Dungeness Composite Squadron Honor Guard, a unit of Civil Air Patrol on the North Olympic Peninsula; Port Angeles Post 29 Legion Riders Flag Line; and Post 6787 Commander Rod Lee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars leading the ceremonial ritual.
On Saturday, more than 1,500 small U.S. flags were placed at gravesites at Ocean View Cemetery, 3127 W. 18th St., and at Mt. Angeles Memorial Park, 45 Monroe Road.
Public and family member assistance is asked in picking up the flags from gravesites after 4 p.m. today.
Flags should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, and then raised to the top of the pole until sunset, in honor of the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes, organizers said.
American Legion Post 62 will be the lead for Memorial Day services, starting at 11 a.m. today at Sequim View Cemetery, 1505 Sequim-Dungeness Way. They will be assisted by VFW Post 4760.
American Legion members will then hold short ceremonies at Jamestown Cemetery (end of Jake Hall Road) at noon, Dungeness Cemetery (2153 Lotzgesell Road) at 12:45 p.m., and Blue Mountain Cemetery (1986 Blue Mountain Road) at 1:30 p.m.
VFW post 4760 will conduct a ceremony at Gardiner Cemetery, 137 Gardiner Cemetery Road, at 12:30 p.m. This is where Medal of Honor recipient Marvin Shields is buried. The public is welcome to attend all ceremonies.
Flags set on veterans graves at Sequim View and Dungeness cemeteries will be recovered at 4 p.m. today.
American Legion Post 106 will conduct a Memorial Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. today in the Forks Cemetery on Cemetery Avenue.
The public is invited to attend.
The Marvin G. Shields Memorial Post 26 American Legion, Elks Lodge 317 and the Bruce F. Matheson Post 7498 Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct wreath-laying ceremonies at East Jefferson County cemeteries today.
Honor guards and flag lines will be present and will fire rifle salutes and play taps.
The schedule for services is:
• Fort Worden Cemetery, 1300-1398 W St., Port Townsend, at 9 a.m.
• Laurel Grove Cemetery, Cemetery Street, Port Townsend, at 9:30 a.m.
• St. Mary’s Cemetery, San Juan Avenue and 42nd Street, Port Townsend, at 10 a.m.
• Chimacum Cemetery, 9099 state Highway 19, Chimacum, at 11 a.m.
These ceremonies will be followed at 11:30 a.m. by a concert by the Port Townsend Summer Band at the Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., Port Townsend.
A Memorial Day program will begin at noon at the Legion Hall with a call to order, the advance of the Colors, Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, an opening prayer, the Missing In Action table ceremony, a hymn, Memorial Day address, a medley of service song medley, a closing prayer, sounding of taps and post-ceremony music.
A wreath-laying ceremony at City Dock, next to Pope Marine Park, will follow the ceremonies at the Legion Hall.
The services will conclude with a potluck luncheon in the Legion Hall from approximately 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to bring some food for the lunch.
Captain Joseph House
The Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles will remember fallen soldiers at 4 p.m. Monday.
The 12th annual ceremony will be outdoors at the house at 1108 S. Oak St., “honoring all fallen heroes, the men and women who served and died on American and foreign soil in pursuit of Freedom and Peace,” according to its poster.
The Captain Joseph House, the only respite center in the United States for families who have lost loved ones in combat since 9/11, opened for its first families last October, nine years after the ground was broken for the facility.
Betsy Reed Schultz led the work to renovate her bed and breakfast into a one-of-a-kind respite center for Gold Star families as she grieved the death of her only son in combat. Army Captain Joseph Schultz was killed at the age of 36 in Afghanistan on May 29, 2011, when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive.