It is important that people understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Major Morrow said Monday during a Memorial Day observance at the Highland County Veterans Memorial in Hillsboro.
“Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day,” said Morrow, a retired major with the U.S. Air Force who lost a leg while serving his country and served as the guest speaker Monday. “I get thanked a lot (on Memorial Day) for my service, and I appreciate that. But this day is about the men and women who didn’t make it back to receive that support.”
Morrow said Armed Forces Day is for those still in uniform, Veterans Day is for those who have hung up their uniform, and Memorial Day is for those who never made it out of their uniform.
The are four days, Morrow said, when the United States flag should be flown at half-staff — Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, Patriot Day on Sept. 11, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Dec. 7 and Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. It is to be flown at half-staff all day on the first three days above, but only until noon on Memorial Day. The custom honors the war dead in the morning and the living veterans the rest of the day.
Morrow quoted from Civil War veteran Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1884 Memorial Day speech when he said: “Year after year the comrades of the dead follow with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march — honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.”
He also quoted from President Abraham Lincoln’s Nov. 19, 1863 Getterysburg Address when he said: “That these honored dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The honored guests of the day were 101-year-old Herman Holt and 98-year-old Mac McCray, both World War II veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They were both presented with a plaque and memorial coin from Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
“Our World War II veterans are disappearing fast and I think we can be proud in the fact that we have two that served in the Battle of the Bulge,” Hillsboro VFW Commander Rick Wilkin said.
Wilkin served as emcee of the ceremony that for the second year in a row was condensed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Wilkin said, the hope is that next year’s ceremony will go back to a longer version with seating provided and a luncheon afterward at the VFW Post.
He noted that local resident Rick Tipton, who serves as a caretaker for a veterans memorial at Liberty Park in Hillsboro, has, along with others, created a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Field at the memorial.
“He said, ‘You need to go out and see this,’” Wilkin said. “They’re very proud of what it looks like and what it represents.”
Wilkin said, “Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those died in battle as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
A short description of Memorial Day’s beginning was presented by Wilkin. He said General John A. Logan issued a proclamation on May 5, 1868 calling for a “Decoration Day” to honor Union soldiers from the Civil War. He said the name was later changed to Memorial Day and it is now a federal holiday observed annually on the last Monday in May.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.