We schedule and convene three programs annually:
Location – unless otherwise announced, occurs at the Veterans’ Memorial At Pendleton Park on 1425 Morgan Blvd. in Harlingen, Texas
Memorial Day - Decoration day (America’s most solemn holiday)
Traditional date of 30 May – program date and time is announced in advance – usually Sunset.
This U.S. public holiday is distinct from Veterans Day because we honor those who have died while in Military service. (Armed Forces Day is another remembrance day honoring those who currently serve in the U.S. Military).
2019 was the first Candlelight Ceremony held at sunset.
The first commemorative Memorial Day events were not held in the U.S. until the late 19th Century but the practice of honoring those who had fallen dates back to the Greek and Roman days. Don’t know where this tradition originally started but public funerals, processions and festooning their graves with flowers in their honor was a common practice.
The Civil War ended in 1865 and claimed more lives than any other conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first National cemeteries. By the late 1860’s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers. It was originally known as Decoration Day and then became an official Federal Holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.
The term Memorial Day was used in the 1880’s while the holiday was officially known as Decoration day. In 1968, the uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect thereby moving Memorial day from its traditional observance on 30 May to the last Monday in May regardless. The move has not been without controversy. Conflict over associating the holiday marking the first long week end of summer vs. the intended purpose to honor the Nation’s war dead has been a bone of contention.
Wearing a red Poppy….. – a Remembrance symbol
In the spring of 1915, bright red flowers began to spout thru the battle-raged land across France and Flanders in northern Belgium. Canadian LT Col. John McCrae, who served as a brigade surgeon for an Allied artillery unit, spotted a cluster of Poppies shortly after the bloody battle of Ypres. The sigh t of the red flowers against the dreary backdrop of war inspired McCrae to pen the poem “In Flanders Field”. Later that year, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker began a campaign to make the Poppy a symbol of tribute to all who died in war. The Poppy remains a symbol or remembrance to this day.
Did you know….. there are still some formal rituals on the books. The American Flag should be hung at half-staff until noon then raised to the top of the staff. And since 2000, when Congress passed legislation, all Americans are encouraged to pause of a National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm local time.
Veterans Day 11 November 11 am (Armistice Day)
Originally known as Armistice Day, is a federal holiday observed on the 11th of November. Today we honor Military Veterans. It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which is celebrated in other countries. WWI was a multi-national effort. This day marks the end of WWI which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. President Woodrow Wilson issued this message expressing what he felt the day meant to all Americans. Armistice Day was later renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower which celebrates the service of all U.S. Military Veterans. The official spelling is attributive (no apostrophe) rather than in the possessive because it is not a day that “belongs” to Veterans but a day to honor all Veterans.
Wreaths Across America Day – scheduled for Saturday 14 December 2019 11 am
Is usually scheduled the second or third Saturday in December. Directly following the Opening Ceremony, participants head to the cemeteries for the Wreath-laying ceremony where they will meet a committee member. Complete information can be reviewed on the website at harlingenveterans.com
National Wreaths Across America Day is dedicated to remembering the sacrifices Veterans have made in wars since the American Revolution. Congress designated WAA Day on the 13th of December 2008. WAA pays tribute in Veterans cemeteries in all 50 States while we attend our local cemeteries. The mission raises awareness and encourages more people to Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve and their families and teach the children. Each year a theme is chosen to help volunteers and supporters focus their messaging and outreach in their own communities. This year is “Everyone Plays A Part” denotes the happenstance meet by the grandson of the Founder of WAA. Miles Worcester, 10 year old grandson of Merrill Worcester met a U.S. service member in uniform at the hotel meeting and as always, he walked up to the gentleman and reached out to shake his hand and thank him for his service. The response was impactful and simple: “Thank you….. everyone plays a part”. Miles went directly to his grandmother WAA Director Karen Worcester to tell her he believed this statement would be a perfect theme because “those serving in the Military are doing their part, but it is our part as Americans to remember and honor them, - and that’s what WAA does.