Learn About Memorial Day & Discover Local Stories of Service

On May 29th 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.

Fallen WWII Soldiers Teach Students About Sacrifice

Grades 6-12
Learn how researching the lives of soldiers who died on D-Day helps connect students with history with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour.

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.

Friday, May 26

2 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 29

1 PM: The Tuskegee Airmen: Return to Ramitelli

Narrated by Country Music Superstar Darius Rucker, in The Tuskegee Airmen: Return to Ramitelli, we return to Ramitelli airfield in Italy to chronicle the legacy of World War II’s famed Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots who helped break stereotypes and helped win World War II with their incredible fighter escorts of American bombers.

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.

Local Stories of Service: 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.