The public is invited to join area veterans’ organizations on Memorial Day to celebrate and honor those who have given of themselves by serving our country in the armed forces.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was initially observed May 30, 1868 — three years after the end of the Civil War. According to the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the day was set aside to place flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Officially declared as a federal holiday in 1971, Memorial Day is observed the last Monday of May.
Area organizations have shared information about Memorial Day services in Pendleton, Hermiston and Irrigon.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Let’er Buck Post 922 and the Friends of Olney are leading a program Monday beginning at 11 a.m. at Olney Cemetery, 865 Tutuilla Road, Pendleton. And, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4750 and American Legion Post 37 are heading up programs at the Hermiston Cemetery and Desert Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Irrigon.
John Cook, post service officer, said an Avenue of Flags, featuring casket flags of area veterans, and graveside flags will be displayed Thursday through Monday. Olney Cemetery, Cook said, will be a sea of red, white and blue as more than 1,200 flags are displayed on the graves of veterans.
“That’s just veterans,” he said. “There are a lot of veterans up there at Olney.”
The short program, Cook said, will include the posting of the colors, the placement of a memorial wreath, a short speech, music and prayer. Coffee and cookies will be available. Also, a special rendition of “Echo Taps” will be performed by David Chorazy and his son.
“It is amazing,” Cook said. “It’s moving and sounds really great.”
Leading up to Memorial Day, volunteers are needed to erect the Avenue of Flags in Hermiston, said Ron Jardine, VFW Post 4750 commander. To assist, go to the Hermiston Cemetery Friday at 5 p.m., located off Highway 395, just south of New Hope Community Church.
Featuring around 800 flags, the magnificent display will remain through Monday at 5 p.m., at which time volunteers can help with their removal. The cemetery is open from daylight to dusk.
The Memorial Day service in Hermiston begins Monday at 10 a.m. The service in Irrigon follows at 11 a.m. The Desert Lawn cemetery is located off Highway 730. People are invited to bring lawn chairs and pay tribute to those who served our country. As part of a local tradition, Jardine said the ceremonies will include the reading of names of local veterans who have died in the past year.
An online directory of Memorial Day events across Oregon can be viewed at www.oregondva.com/2019memorialday.