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Jamestown can be proud to name 4,300 of its citizens who have served – many of whom died in combat – in military service to the United States of America since the Revolutionary War.
Memorial Day was created to remember all of those brave and unselfish men and women, both here and across the nation.
Flags for Valor
“On Thursday evening this week,” said Leo Penfield, a United States Navy veteran of the Desert Storm campaign, “we will set out American flags at every one of the 3,505 veterans’ graves at Lakeview Cemetery to honor their lives and service.” Penfield, president of the Joint Veterans Council of Jamestown, added that an additional nearly 800 flags will also be distributed to Jamestown’s other three cemeteries: Holy Cross, Holy Sepulcher, and Beth El, all on Oak Hill Road.
“We will begin at Soldiers Circle at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday,” Penfield explained. The flag will be lowered to half-mast during a special ceremony, followed by volunteers spreading out across the grounds to place the flags at the grave of every veteran. “It is a moving experience,” Penfield said, “and we’ll gladly welcome more volunteers.” Readers are invited to call Leo Penfield at 490-5589 to join the team.
Lakewood Cemetery’s three Medal of Honor recipients will also receive special flags, each adorned with a distinctive blue ribbon. (See this page – for side bar with names and award dates). The oldest verified veteran in Lakewood will also receive a flag again this year, Amasa Root, born in 1806.
On Memorial Day morning, the flag of the United States is to be raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to half-staff until noon. It is then raised back up to full-staff. Current US Army regulations say the flag is to be raised “from reveille to retreat” every day, or in the Navy, “from sunrise to sunset,” but Memorial Day is different.
By tradition, the half-staff flag remembers more than one million men and women who died in service of their country. The noon return to full-staff symbolizes the resolve of the living not to let that sacrifice be in vain, but to continue seeking liberty and justice for all, the true aim of all Memorial Day remembrances.
City Plays Its Part
John Williams, Jamestown Parks manager, said, “Memorial Day is very popular around here every year. We put a lot of work into making it go right.” Williams and his staff set up and manage two major events: the annual parade and a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park. “Managing the street traffic, the pedestrians, hundreds of parade marchers and thousands of viewers, as well as the park stage and seating setup, is a complicated job.”
This year’s parade will require street crossing restrictions and traffic closures for most of the morning on Monday, May 29. According to Leo Penfield, “We have to be done by noon at Soldier’s Circle in the cemetery, because that’s when we must raise the flag back to full-mast,” but the many parade components and crowds may require longer to clear the streets.
Lakeview Cemetery itself has continued expanding its memorial commitment to the region’s veterans. Its original Monument Hill section was filled many years ago leading to creation of Soldiers’ Circle, where all sites are also now filled. Though ceremonies will continue there, a new section has now been opened called Veteran’s Grove, according to Lakewood Cemetery’s Hugh Golden.
Jamestown is home to many veterans organizations. “We want to bring them all together,” said Melodie Paladino, one of the chief Memorial Day organizers with the Joint Veterans Council of Jamestown. “After all, we are all here for the same reason. That’s why Memorial Day was created.”
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed on the last Monday of May every year. Originally called Decoration Day after the Civil War in 1868, its purpose was to decorate Union soldiers’ graves with flowers. Some historians say the date was chosen to be sure not to coincide with any battle, while others say the White House chose it for the time when flowers would be in full bloom.
Memorial Day become the more popular name only after World War II. It was not declared the official name until 1967 by Federal law.
Though Jamestown’s Memorial Day parades and celebrations have been going on longer than the living memory of many, no one’s celebrations predate the first ever, as claimed by Doylestown, PA, in 1867.
The Living Stand with the Fallen
“Memorial Day and Veterans Day are still confused by some people,” said retired Air Force Major Greg Carlson, Director of the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency. “But Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11 to recognize active or retired service men and women. Memorial Day honors the lives and loyalty of those who have fallen, whether in the line of duty or during retirement. So I think it is entirely appropriate and fitting that we who are veterans today contribute what we can to the Memorial Day services and commemorations of those who went before us. We are proud to be there.”
Major Carlson will address the Gold Star Mothers, mothers who lost sons or daughters in active service, at the Jamestown Veterans Memorial Park on Memorial Day, demonstrating the veteran’s solidarity with the fallen.
Medal of Honor Recipients
- Edgar P. Putnam – 1892
Sgt. New York Cavalry
- Henri LeSevre Brown 1896
Sgt. New York Infantry
- James M. Young 1898
Pvt. New York Infantry
For more information about Gold Star Mothers, visit http://www.goldstarmoms.com/, Blue Star Mothers, (Mothers of children who currently serve or have served), visit https://www.bluestarmothers.org/, and to contact the Chautauqua County Veterans Services, Major Carlson suggests simply googling VA Services to access everything they have to offer.
The Jamestown Gazette joins all veterans and families of our fallen heroes in remembering their valiant service and commitment to the United States and to all of her citizens in pursuit of “Liberty and Justice for All.”