According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, celebrating Memorial Day in early rural America was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its deceased military became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation. Portsmouth is a “heart-of-America” town where American holidays do not change over the years.
If Memorial Day activities have become mundane to you, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at the purpose as we honor those who have gone before us and paved the way for us. This year’s Scioto County Memorial Day Association event isn’t much different from those in the past.
Monday, May 29, Memorial Day will begin with a memorial service at 9 a.m. at Tracy Park, presented by the Scioto County Veterans Service Office, Ron Moniger, First Vice Commander of the American Veterans Post in Portsmouth, said.
“As soon as the ceremony is over we start getting everybody in line for the parade,” Moniger said. “The parade starts at 10 (a.m.).”
The grand marshal for the parade is Wendell Skinner and the honorary marshal is Susan Frazier. Moniger said the parade will leave Tracy Park, go south on Chillicothe Street to Gallia Street, go east on Gallia to Offnere Street, and north on Offnere to Greenlawn Cemetery.
“We will have about a half-hour ceremony at Greenlawn Cemetery,” Moniger said.
The speaker at Greenlawn will be James Bussa. James spent 18 out of 22 years of service in Japan. He has been to 13 countries over his career and deployed to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar and Jordan, retiring out of Tokyo, Japan. Chip Maillet will be the master of ceremonies at the cemetery.
Beans and cornbread will be served for lunch at American Legion Post 23, followed by the Lost at Sea Service program on the riverfront in Portsmouth at 1 p.m. The speaker will be Navy veteran Jim Elliot.
“We do have wreathes already bought,” Moniger said. “At the cemetery, the ladies in white will be putting them out, and we have a wreath for the Lost at Sea service.”
Rhonda Madison, grave-flagging chairperson has put out an appeal for volunteers to help place flags on veterans’ graves thought Scioto County. There are over 3,000 veterans buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. Those wishing to assist can report at 9 a.m. at cemetery located at the north end of the cemetery on Friday, May 26 and/or Saturday, May 27.
The Portsmouth Fire Department will hold a memorial service remembering firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty at 1:30 p.m. at the Central Fire Station.