PORTSMOUTH—Preparation is underway for Scioto County’s Memorial Day Association as the holiday weekend draws near.
Donna Lewis, President of the Scioto County Memorial Day Association, has been involved in the county’s Memorial Day services and preparation for most of her lifetime.
“I used to do what they call the Ladies in White. That’s where they go around the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and they read a saying: ‘We lay flowers down in memory of all the veterans of the foreign wars, of the War of 1812, Vietnam,’ and so forth. I started out helping with that probably when I was in my twenties. Of course, and when I was school, I was always in the band, so I was very involved with Memorial Day. My mother was very involved with it, and that’s how she got me into it,” said Lewis.
The legacy of the men in her family who served helped continue Lewis’ service to veterans in her community. “My father was in the service, my grandfather was in the service, and that’s how I became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at Post 23. Although the people on the Memorial Day committee and not just from [American Legion] Post 23 or Post 471; anybody can be on the committee because it’s Scioto County’s Memorial Day [not just Portsmouth’s].”
The Memorial Day festivities for Scioto County help its residents to acknowledge the service of our veterans and to honor their service. The parade, which steps off from Tracy Park at 10 a.m. on May 30, is a great point of pride for Lewis and for the Memorial Day Association.
She hopes that after a two year hiatus from the parade due to COVID restrictions, more county residents will turn out.
“We are hoping that we can get more people to come to it. It used to be that it was the only [Memorial Day parade] for years, so everyone would come to Portsmouth. The parade used to be huge,” she recalls.
Services and ceremonies from local speakers and veterans organizations will take place: one before the parade begins in Tracy Park around 9:30 a.m, and another at the parade’s conclusion.
“The Veterans Service Office will be doing a ceremony in Tracy Park right there at the memorial. It’s mostly veterans who come and do the service. I think Sam McKibben is going to be speaking. The service doesn’t last very long, and then they’ll be raising a new flag there as well,” Lewis said.
The parade will begin from there, and Lewis says that if an organization or group wishes to be included in the procession, participating is simple.
“We decided not to do an application this year. We wanted to get it in the paper, put it out there, and they can just come. Just show up at Tracy Park [for the parade line up].”
The parade route, led by veteran and Purple Heart recipient Pat Sands, extends down Chillicothe St., past the Esplanade, onto Gallia St. and then Offnere, ending at the historic Greenlawn Cemetery. From there, another service will take place within Soldiers’ Circle.
Christopher Lowery, Portsmouth’s Fire Chief and a veteran himself, will speak at the Greenlawn service.
In addition to a large community turnout, Lewis hopes most of all that people will remember the reasons behind the holiday.
“It is to acknowledge the lives that were lost in all of these wars. We would not have our freedom today if not for all of those [veterans]. This is to honor those who did fight for us so that we can have the freedoms we have today. It’s not always about having a picnic or a sale at a department store.”
Follow the Scioto County Memorial Day Association on Facebook for more information and updates. The Memorial Day services begin around 9:30 a.m. in Tracy Park on Monday, May 30, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m.
Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]
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