On May 30th we observe Memorial Day to honor the soldiers who have died while serving in the United States Military.
In 1868, following the Civil War, many citizens across the nation began honoring those who had given their lives in service of their country. Among them was Henry Welles, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, New York, who introduced a local day of remembrance on May 5th. Hearing about this and other similar commemorations around the nation, General Jonathan Logan established May 30th as the official day of observance known as Decoration Day. This day was meant to be a day of reconciliation, memorializing fallen soldiers by decorating the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1882 this day was renamed as Memorial Day to honor soldiers who had died in all previous wars, and in 1971 it became a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May each year.
Today we pay tribute through moments of silence, parades and local tributes, decorating the graves of soldiers, and gathering with friends and family to reflect on the sacrifices these servicepeople have made. The President or Vice President of the United States also gives a speech to the nation, laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns, the monument located in Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified.
To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, and for programs highlighting the contributions of the men and women in our armed forces, their families, and how local community members are keeping these stories of service alive, check out the resources below.
Grades PreK-3 How are you and your kids honoring Memorial Day? There are many ways your family can recognize the day, from attending a memorial wreath presentation to creating handmade patriotic paper flags!
Grades PreK-3 Sesame Street for Military Families is a free, bilingual (English and Spanish) website where families can find information and multimedia resources on the topics of military deployments, multiple deployments, homecomings, injuries, grief, and self-expression. Military families can download free apps, printable activity pages for children, and play online games together to help share your thoughts and feelings.
The Last Ring is a loving tribute to U.S. Navy officer and hero Lieutenant Nathaniel Minter Dial by his grandson Minter Dial II. After two and a half years of imprisonment by the Japanese in the Philippines, Lt. Dial’s dying wish was to have his 1932 Annapolis Naval Academy ring returned to his wife; but the ring never made it home. The Last Ring uncovers the mystery of how the ring was lost and found, and reveals the lasting legacy it had on all those it touched.
Americans are shocked by Hitler’s massive counterattack in the Ardennes Forest – but by mid March, 1945, they are across the Rhine, while Russians are 50 miles from Berlin. In the Pacific, after weeks of desperate fighting, Iwo Jima is secured, and American bombers begin a full-fledged air assault of Japan.
A few weeks after the death of President Roosevelt shocks the country, Germany surrenders. Meanwhile, American sailors, soldiers and Marines endure the worst battle of the Pacific – Okinawa. In August, American planes drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese, too, surrender. Millions return home – to try to learn how to live in a world without war.
Elvis and the USS Arizona tells the surprising story of how one of music’s biggest icons helped to establish a USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor. Elvis’ fundraising concert drew public attention to the plight and helped to galvanize efforts to finish the USS Arizona Memorial as it stands today.
2 PM: The Misty Experiment: The Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail
The story of the special U.S. Air Force squadron whose pilots volunteered for one of the Vietnam War’s most dangerous air missions. Their assignment: search for enemy supply transports and anti-aircraft installations concealed within the web of trail paths and waterways collectively known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The squadron also directed rescue operations for U.S. and allied aircrews shot down.
On the eve of Memorial Day, a star-studded lineup will grace the stage for one of the highest-rated programs on PBS. For over 30 years, this multiple-award-winning television event has honored the military service and sacrifice of all our men and women in uniform, their families at home, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Veterans Coming Home is an innovative cross-platform public media campaign that bridges America’s military-civilian divide by telling stories, challenging stereotypes and exploring how the values of service and citizenship are powerful connectors for all Americans.
Mountain Lake PBS is a partner station in this national initiative by public media stations around the country. Watch our entire Veterans Coming Home series online, anytime. To learn more about the national project, visit their facebook page.
In honor of Memorial Day, our Veterans Coming Home Series Producer Michael Hansen has the story of an Army Veteran who on a visit to a cemetery found a gravesite almost entirely overgrown with sod & moss. When he peeled it back, he discovered it was a veteran’s marker. That’s how Carl Benware’s mission, and his project called “Remembering Our Heroes” began. Carl and an army of volunteers now work to restore the gravesites of hundreds of veterans in the North Country.
Sailor Honored in Malone
Jack LaDuke has the the story of a local veteran recently honored more than 50 years after losing his life in the worst naval disaster in U.S. history. Steve Cayey from Malone, New York, was among the 129 sailors who died in the sinking of the USS Thresher submarine, off the coast of Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean on April 10, 1963.
A New Film Explores the Story of a Local Soldier Who Never Came Home
When I Come Home tells the story of a young marine from Mineville, New York, who died in Vietnam. The documentary also reveals the unusual memorial his friends and neighbors have preserved for 50-years in his honor. Marcus Stoddard left a can of beer at the garage in Port Henry where he worked as a mechanic, saying he would drink it when he returned home from the war. Marcus was killed in action two months after arriving in Vietnam, at the age of 19. Filmmakers Tom Henry and Bill Killon join us to talk about the documentary that focuses on Marcus’s story, as well as the sacrifice made by 4 other young servicemen, from neighboring communities, who died while serving in Vietnam.