Memorial Day observed


Amercian Legion Mansell L. Phillips Post No. 509 in West Liberty held the annual Memorial Day service Monday, May 29, at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The service started with Post Commander Ken Riley thanking everyone for attending the service.

Next, Jeff Owen read all the names of the service men and women who had passed away.

After he was done, the American Legion Auxiliary laid wreaths at the war memorials.

Tom Wertzbaugher gave the history of Memorial Day at the Memorial Day service in West Liberty Monday, May 29.

“Memorial Day is all about taking time to honor Americans, our fallen heroes,” Wertzbaugher said. “We’re acknowledging the men and woman who gave the ultimate sacrifice while defending our country.”

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, he said. This name came from the early tradition of decorating graves from flowers and flags.

There are many theories about the origin of Memorial Day.

“The simple factual version is this,” Wertzbaugher said. “It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers by proclamation by General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. An organization of former Union soldiers and sailors.”

During the first celebration, former Union General and Congressman James Garfield spoke at the Arlington National Cemetery, he added. Afterward, 5,000 people helped decorate graves of 20,000 soldiers who were buried there.

“In 1873, New York was the first day to designate Memorial Day as a holiday,” Wertzbaugher said. “After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then widely established as a national holiday.”

In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.

Wertzbaugher then read several quotes including one from Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Freedom makes a huge requirement from every human being,” Wertzbaugher read. “With freedom come responsibilities.”

Even Herbert Hoover said “Here men endure that a nation might live,” he also read.

Diplomats, first ladies and politicians understand what it takes to have freedom, Wertzbaugher added. He asked everyone in attendance to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. He ended his speech reading the poem “Memorial Day” by Amos Russel Wells.

The ceremony ended with TAPS played by the West Liberty High School band. They played a couple of other patriotic songs for the ceremony as well.