While Memorial Day will mark the unofficial beginning of summer and the traditional time to start wearing white on Monday, May 30, its true significance is as a day to remember those in the American armed forces who have given up their lives in service to the country.
In Hillsboro, this year’s observance will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial on the west side of the Highland County Courthouse.
Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday dates back to the end of the Civil War, originally commemorating the quarter of a million lives lost during that four-year period.
While independent memorial gatherings were most likely held before 1868, that is when the first noted recognition of the day came from Gen. John A. Logan, a former Union Army general and political leader. He designated May 30 of that year as a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers and honor their sacrifice.
The holiday was initially practiced mostly by those in the North because of Logan’s position within the Union Army. Subsequent to the first and second World Wars, however, Memorial Day came to be the date that honors all fallen U.S. soldiers.
Memorial Day became a federal holiday when the U.S. Congress implemented the Uniform Holiday Act in 1971, and it was moved to its current date on the final Monday in May creating the annual long weekend.
In Hillsboro, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9094 Commander Rick Wilkin said the city’s Memorial Day observance will essentially return to the way it was done before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s going to start at 10:30 the same as usual, and we’re going to have bleachers again this year — three sets like we did before COVID,” said Wilkin.
With the return of the bleachers, Wilkin said there is no need to bring lawn chairs to the event.
Vietnam veteran Stephen Murray is slated to be the keynote speaker with Wilkin serving as the master of ceremonies. There will be a table set up to honor POWs and MIAs.
“It’s going to be pretty much what it’s been in the past before COVID,” said Wilkin. “We’ll have a prayer, and hopefully we will have the mayor and the county commissioners present a proclamation, and we’ll do the pledge of allegiance and probably have a wreath laying.”
The flag will be raised at half-staff to mark the occasion. Patriotic music recorded by the Hillsboro High School band will be played during the ceremony as well as a vocal and flute performance by Diane Coffey and Jenny Harner, respectively.
The Highland County Veterans Honor Guard will fire rifles, and two local high school students will perform echo taps. Following the event, the honor guard will perform ceremonies at the Catholic and Hillsboro cemeteries to honor veterans interred there.
Sandwiches and tea will be served at the VFW post in Hillsboro following the ceremony. The entire event is open to the public.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.