VFW, Boy Scouts among local groups commemorating Memorial Day

Pausing one day each year to honor those who died in service to their country, is a tradition dating back to the post-Civil War era.

What we know as Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day. The first observance was May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Congress named the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, and an official federal holiday, with the passage of the National Holiday Act in 1971.

Memorial Day may symbolize the beginning of the summer season, but for many, it’s also a time to say “thank you” to those who have given their all to all of us.

Memorial Day Observances, Monday, May 27

Forest Lawn Cemetery, 400 S.W. Walters Drive, Gresham. 9 a.m. Ceremony by the Gresham VFW will include brief remarks and the annual placement of flowers on a local veteran’s grave. The VFW will honor Don Harden this year, a Gresham resident who was killed in Vietnam.

Heroes Memorial, East Powell Boulevard and Roberts Street, Gresham. 11 a.m. Scheduled speakers, Oregon Sen. Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Rep. Greg Matthews and VFW Commander Val Shaull, will honor all local veterans, who have died in military service. Symbolic hymns, the posting of the colors and “Taps” will also be featured.

Willamette National Cemetery, 11800 S.E. Mt. Scott Blvd., Portland. The area’s only national veteran’s cemetery will honor all branches of the military beginning at 10 a.m. Keynote speaker will be Mike Donohue, former KOIN news anchor and Army veteran. Kell’s Irish Restaurant’s Pipe and Drum Corps will perform, along with the wind ensemble from Sandy High School.

The West Coast Ravens, a private club team, are scheduled to provide the ceremonial fly-over. Scouts from several districts with the metro-area’s Boy Scouts of America will mark the nearly 130,000 veteran graves, during their annual flag plant Thursday, May 23.

Parking is limited, according to cemetery staff, so arriving early is recommended.

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