Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 8 AM the American Legion Post #217 in Burna, Kentucky, will be hosting their annual Memorial Day celebration. This is an event many look forward to as not only a day to honor our deceased veterans but also to decorate the cemeteries and as the starting of summer. Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was once called, has a long history going back to even before the Civil War. Southern women began decorating the graves of soldiers even before the end of the Civil War. After the war, a women’s memorial association put flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers in 1866 as an act of kindness.
The First Official Memorial Day was May 30, 1868. In 1868, Commander in Chief, John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued what was called General Order Number 11, designating May 30 as a memorial day. He declared it to be “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” The first Memorial Day was celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery decorating the graves of soldiers both Confederate and Union.
Memorial Day was originally to honor those who lost their lives in the Civil War. We soon realized that peace is not forever. It was during World War I the United States found itself in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades May 30th remained the holiday to honor those lost in conflict. However in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. This same law declared Memorial Day a federal holiday also.
The Logan E Clark Post 217 American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 217 strive to honor not only our veterans who lost their lives in combat but to honor all those who have served their country assuring us of our freedoms we so enjoy today. Several of their veterans formed and made the Post’s first monument which stands today. It was dedicated on May 30, 1993 and has these words: “In Honor and Memory of all those veterans who have served in the Armed Forces of this Great Nation with pride and honor”. This monument was designed, formed, and completed by the hands of some hard-working veterans of Post 217. Some of those who worked on this first monument were Delmar Mitchell, McGrew (Pete) Foster, Ray Casey, Jim Scofield, U.B. Green, and Robert Mitchell.
For many years it was an act of love and comradeship that the veterans worked for up to three days erecting crosses and flags with the names for each of the county’s deceased veterans. With nearly 2300 names and the age of members serving in the post, it became almost impossible without help from the community to carry out this event. Each post today needs the younger veterans to step up and join a post near you so that veterans can be helped and laws made to help these same veterans.
The Post and Auxiliary were honored with a large donation from one of their members, Clifton Arflack, to erect a permanent memorial in which they could engrave the names of all county veterans so they will be forever remembered for their service to our country. With more contributions from members of the Post and Unit and along with contributions from our community, it is possible to continue updating these monuments yearly as they are notified of a veteran’s death. Those names not yet on the monuments, will be honored with a cross and flag in their memory at this year’s celebration. These names will then be engraved before the next Memorial Day. This year we have 79 so far to place crosses and later engrave. The members depend on your support and through newspapers in keeping these lists updated.
The American Legion Post 217’s memorial service will be held under the new shelter in the memorial garden and will begin at 8 AM. Guest speaker will be Lt. Col. John Watson of Marion. He is a 1985 ROTC top graduate. Singing the National Anthem will be Dee Wright of Burna.
A light continental breakfast will be offered to all in attendance by the Auxiliary members. You are encouraged to visit the memorial garden and you should still be out in time to attend the church of your choice. The memorial garden is open daily for visitors.