Honoring & Observing Memorial Day

On May 27th 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.

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Activities, Crafts & More

Patriotic Paper Flags

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!

Sesame Street for Military Families

Grades PreK-3
Explore military parenting advice and tips to find information on self-expression, positive parenting, and answers to common concerns of military families with Sesame Street for Military Families. Using this free, bilingual (English and Spanish) website, families can download apps, printable activity pages for children, and play online games together to help share your thoughts and feelings.

Field of Flags

Grades 6-12
In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, we visit Southern Regional High School where students place more than 6,600 flags to commemorate American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan for Memorial Day. The project, now in its third year, provides students – and the community of Manahawkin – with a clear representation of the Memorial Day holiday and gives them an opportunity to honor the sacrifice of those in the armed forces.

Watch & Wonder Programming

Check out the Mountain Lake PBS Watch & Wonder block, weekdays from 1-3pm! In honor of Memorial Day, join us throughout May as we learn about the contributions of the men and women in our armed forces.

Wednesday, May 22

1 PM: The Seabees on Iwo Jima

Narrated by CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, The Seabees on Iwo Jima focuses on the United States Naval Construction Battalions in World War II, which built all the infrastructure for the Allies in Europe and the Pacific in WWII. The Seabees were construction workers by trade but had to fight at times. Their motto was “We Build, We Fight,” and their biggest test came in the battle for Iwo Jima in 1945.

2 PM: 1st to Fight: Pacific War Marines

On the Pacific island of Guadalcanal in 1942, the famed 1st Marine Division — the oldest, largest and most decorated division of the U.S. Marine Corps — defeated Japanese forces in a turning point of WWII. 1ST TO FIGHT: PACIFIC WAR MARINES, narrated by actor Jon Seda, documents the experiences of 1st Marine Division veterans who took part in the historic fight.

Thursday, May 23

1 PM: Just Like Me: The Vietnam War/The American War

Just Like Me: The Vietnam War/The American War is a journey from present to past and back again that follows Vietnam veteran Ron Osgood in his quest to recover fragmented and buried stories from all sides of the Vietnam War/American War. While combat is a formidable topic in many Vietnam War documentaries, the film focuses on other topics, such as music, art, and respect for the enemy.

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.

Friday, May 24

1 PM: Music & Might: America’s International Tattoo

Music & Might: America’s International Tattoo, the first International Tattoo performed anywhere in the world in more than two years, highlights groups from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard and a total of 500 performers from 5 nations sharing their unique culture and pride. The program features inspirational patriotic music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show-stopping drill team maneuvers, flashy drum line routines, and lively Celtic dancers all accompanied by insightful narration and commentary.

Monday, May 27

1 PM: Her War, Her Story: World War II

Narrated by actress Jane Lynch, “Her War, Her Story: World War II” tells the stories of more than two dozen women’s experiences during the war. From members of the U.S. Women’s Army Corps to the civilian witnesses to the war in Europe, this hour-long film shows how women were equal to men in patriotism, service and steadfastness in critical moments.

2 PM: Journey Home to the USS Arizona

The family of Raymond Haerry, Sr. travel to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to place his ashes aboard the sunken battleship. One of the few remaining crew members who survived the attack, Haerry passed away at the age of 94, and in 2017, he was interred in the USS Arizona, rejoining more than 1,000 of his shipmates who lost their lives on that fateful day. Narrated by Matthew Broderick.

Local Stories: Veterans Coming Home

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.

Reviving History

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.

Watch the film’s trailer online and additional Mountain Lake Journal coverage of the filming of the documentary.