It’s Memorial Day

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   This is Memorial Day, a legal holiday. Almost all government offices – local, state, and federal – are closed as are banks and other financial institutions, and there is no mail delivery today.

     Under proclamations by President Joe Biden and the 50 governors, American and state flags will fly at half-staff until noon, then return to full-staff.

The National Moment of Remembrance, one minute of silence, begins at 3 p.m. local time.

    Memorial Day services will be held this morning at several area cemeteries with the first 2 in Chadron – 8:00 at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery and 8:30 at the Greenwood Cemetery. 

       Services at the Bethel Cemetery in Whitney are at 9:30 while the Chadron American Legion is hosting a lunch from 11-1:00. 

     Due to anticipated and hoped for rains, the Harrison VFW Memorial Day Ceremonies are moving indoors at 10:30 at the VFW

     In Crawford, a Memorial Service will take place at 10:00 at the Cemetery. Before that, the American Legion will put up flags in City Park at 6:00 with volunteers welcome. 

       The Hay Springs VFW is holding a service at the Hay Springs Cemetery at 10:30, with a bad weather fall-back at the Legion Hall – which is also hosting a carry-in after the service. Meat and rolls will be provided. 

    The Michael J Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home in Hot Springs is hosting a Memorial Day Ceremony at 10:00 that will include a color guard and speakers while Oelrichs has a ceremony at the cemetery at 11:00 followed by lunch at the Community Center.   

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will be part of 3 ceremonies across the state – at Memorial Park in Omaha, Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, and the 20th Century Veterans Memorial in North Platte.

    In his Memorial Day message, Ricketts says “For nearly 250 years, our Republic has been defended by brave women and men who have answered the call of duty in times of war” with many making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we hold dear. “

        He encourages “all Nebraskans to remember our fallen heroes and to give thanks for their patriotic devotion. Together, let’s commit to carrying on their legacy by selflessly serving our communities.”

    South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem points out that this is the first time in 2 decades that the U-S has not been at war on Memorial Day, but also says we should carry with us daily the sacrifice of all the members of the military killed in action since 9/11

       Noem says that reflecting on those we’ve lost by telling stories about their lives outside of service, the joy they brought, and the laughter shared – speaking loudly and proudly about them. 

      Nebraska U-S Senator Deb Fischer says Memorial Day is a time of solemn remembrance, but also a holiday that renews our courage, faith, and hope. 

     Fischer says “We are so grateful to the generations of service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life, “ adding that “we live in the land of the free because of the brave. And for that we are truly lucky

    Over 25 cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but historians all agree the observance began in 1866 when Southern widows placed flowers on the graves of not only Confederate soldiers, but also unmarked graves of Union soldiers.

    When word of the show of honor and respect reached the North, veterans groups followed suit the following year and decorated the graves of both former comrades and their wartime foes on the last day of May.

     General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Potomac – the largest Union veterans group, in 1868 designated May 30th as “Decoration Day” and welcomed about 5,000 people to Arlington National Cemetery to decorate 20,000 graves.

     “Decoration Day” was later expanded to remember soldiers who died in any U-S war or military action, but the name Memorial Day – first used in 1882 – became the more common usage after World War II.

       It was formalized by Congress in 1967 and the date was fixed a year later as the last Monday in May as part of a federal law creating several 3-day holiday weekends.

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