The History of Memorial Day

Three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union Veterans -the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. After speeches, children from Soldiers and Sailors orphan home and members of the GAR made their way around the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. The name Decoration Day was later changed to Memorial Day by passing of the Uniform Holiday Act by Congress on June 28, 1968. They also changed three other holidays.

On Memorial Day, remember to lower the American flag to half-staff at sunrise, and to full staff at noon.

There will be services for Memorial Day all weekend. One such event is to remember the Vietnam veterans from the Titusville area. It will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 26, at Exchange Alley next to the Heritage Center, 126 W. Spring St. in Titusville. Bring a lawn chair. Reservations are greatly appreciated by calling (814) 271 7303 and leaving a message.

Over the weekend, there was a National Chaplains Event that was held in Gettysburg. It was to honor VFW National Chaplain Rev. James Gray. Many Chaplains from Pennsylvania and other states were in attendance. The highlight was a private tour of The Battle Field of Gettysburg, and what the chaplain’s role was in the Union and Confederate armies. A banquet was held at VFW Post 8896 in East Berlin. In attendance were officers from the VFW and auxiliary.

VFW Applauds House Passage of VA Mission Act

On Thursday, the House passed the VA Mission Act of 2018 in a 347-70 vote. The VFW thanks the members of Congress who put veterans first and voted in favor of this important bill. The act is the result of bipartisan and bicameral work by members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs to improve VA health care; fix ongoing issues with the current Choice Program; consolidate community care programs; expand caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans; and improve VA’s infrastructure to better serve veterans. The bill must be passed by the Senate before funding for the current Choice Program runs out on May 31. “This bill honors the nation’s commitment to our veterans to provide them with the care they have earned,” said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7 million-member VFW and its Auxiliary. “It will help improve services throughout the VA health system while utilizing private sector resources when needed, striking the right balance to make sure we provide veterans with the best health care.

VFW-Supported Legislation to Improve Burn Pit Registry

Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Brian Mast jointly introduced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. H.R. 5671, the Burn Pits Accountability Act, would require the military to expand post-deployment physicals to include information on burn pits to which service members may have been exposed and would auto-enroll service members in the registry. This would be an important first step to increase data that could later be used by service members when submitting a VA claim for disability compensation and health care. Rep. Gabbard is a member of VFW Post 2875 in Honolulu and Rep. Mast is a member of VFW Post 9610 in Lake Park, Florida.

POW/MIA Update

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Clarence E. Allen, a WWII veteran, 23, of Venice, Calif., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried May 23 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

Marine Corps Sgt. Elden W. Grimm, a WWII veteran, 26, of Menasha, Wis., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried May 26 in Neenah, Wis.

Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Harvel L. Moore, a WWII veteran, 25, of Chatham, La., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried May 26 in his hometown.

Navy Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class William F. Hellstern, a WWII veteran, 20, of Peoria, Ill., whose identification was previously announced, was buried May 18 in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard H. Aldridge, a WWII veteran, 20, of Sitka, Kan., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried May 26 in Ashland, Kan. Aldridge was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

Navy Reserve Ensign Harold P. DeMoss, a WWII veteran, was a member of Fighting Squadron 100 (VF-100). Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. Melvin C. Anderson, a WWII veteran, was a member of Company C, 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class William V. Campbell, a WWII veteran, was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio