A Mountain Memorial Day

By Sherrie Norris (sherrie.norris@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: May. 27, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
A Mountain Memorial Day

The Watauga County Firefighters Association Color Guard presents the colors during last year's Memorial Day program at the Boone Mall. The High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America will host this year's celebration at Boone Mall on Monday, May 31.

Photo by Mark Mitchell

As a federal holiday observed each year on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is never forgotten in the High Country.

This year is no exception, as at least three public events are being held throughout the day on Monday, May 31, to honor the memory of countless U.S. men and women who died in service to their country.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, the day of remembrance was first enacted to honor soldiers of the American Civil War.

Varying historical accounts exist as to its exact origin and for whom it was actually begun.

Some say the term "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but was not widely acknowledged until after World War II. Declared by its official name in 1967, Memorial Day was officially moved in 1971 from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The change made for an extended weekend and is considered the beginning of the "summer vacation season."

Many observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-mast from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on gravesites of the deceased military personnel, as is planned locally, according to Finley Hodges, commander of the Watauga County American Legion Post No. 130.

Appalachian State University will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 31, at 7:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial on the west side of the Dougherty Administration Building.
Maj. Maury A. Williams from Appalachian's Department of Military Science and Leadership will be the featured speaker.

As the executive officer for Appalachian's Army ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) Program, Williams graduated from ASU with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He also is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and numerous other Army and joint schools and courses.

His military career, spent with the N.C. Army National Guard, spans more than 26 years of service. Prior to coming to Appalachian, Williams was chief operations officer for the 189th Infantry Brigade.

Event activities include a flag-raising ceremony followed by a brief program. A continental breakfast will be served in the administration building lobby following the ceremony. The public is invited to attend.

The High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) will host a Memorial Day celebration at Boone Mall on Monday, May 31, with patriotic music by the Watauga Community Band beginning at 10 a.m., followed by a ceremony at 11 a.m., featuring a speech by Major General "Skip" McCartney.

All veterans and their families are invited to attend.

All local military organizations will be recognized and invited to participate. The recently formed chapter of Blue Star Mothers will also be represented. A display will list the names of all the N.C. veterans who died at Normandy in the D-Day invasion.

The event will also recognize the sacrifices of the service men and women from the current war zones, as well as Vietnam, Korea, both World Wars and all the conflicts throughout the country's history.

Displays by local veterans' organizations are welcome and can be arranged by contacting the Boone Mall office or the High Country Chapter of MOAA at (828) 297-5198.

The event will be broadcast live on local radio station WATA 1450.

The American Legion Post No. 130 will host its annual commemorative ceremony to honor Memorial Day on Monday, May 31, at 2 p.m., at the Legion Post at 135 Bear Trail, off Grand Boulevard in Boone. Featured guest speaker will be Herbert Hash of Boone. Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson has been invited to offer welcoming comments. As is the custom, audience participation is encouraged during a special time of reflection.

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