Somber events mark Memorial Day
Memorial Day will be observed with formal tributes to fallen veterans before and after the May 26 Remembrance Parade in Denver, and separate May 28 ceremonies at Littleton and Fort Logan National Cemetery will honor the service and sacrifice of all members of the military, past and present.
The tradition that established the Memorial Day events states, “to honor all veterans laid to rest in this sacred national cemetery, to all the prisoners of war and those missing in action who never returned, to all who have served and those who, even now, guard the gates of freedom worldwide.”
The May 26 tribute begins at 9 a.m., when a memorial wreath honoring the fallen in all conflicts since World War I will be laid at the Colorado Veterans Monument located across the Lincoln Street from the State Capitol. The annual Remembrance Parade will take place starting at 10 a.m., and at 11:30 there will be a tribute ceremony at the memorial honoring the heroes from the War on Terror.
On May 28, the first ceremony of the day starts at 8 a.m. in the Veterans Circle located in the Littleton Cemetery at 6155 S. Prince St. A second, mirror-image service will be held at 10 a.m. at the Littleton World War II Memorial in Ketring Park, 6000 S. Gallup St.
Also at 11 a.m. there will be a ceremony near the lake at Fort Logan National Cemetery, 3698 S. Sheridan Blvd.
Both ceremonies in Littleton, sponsored by the Pat Hannon Post Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4666 and the George C. Evans American Legion Post 103, follow the same program, with the El Jebel Pipe Band “Amazing Grace” and the All Veterans Honor Guard firing the traditional 21-gun salute.
The ceremonies will include reading of the poems “Flanders Field” and “My Plea.” The poem “My Plea” was written by Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick Hannon, the first Littleton resident to die in the Vietnam War.
At 11 a.m., Fort Logan National Cemetery will hold its annual Memorial Day observance sponsored by the Associated Veterans of Colorado. Featured speakers include John Reiker, executive director of the memorial services network, and Brig. Gen. Robert Enzenauer, assistant adjutant general for space for the Colorado National Guard.
A group representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Retired Enlisted Association Auxiliary and the Gold Star Wives will place a ceremonial wreath at a symbolic grave marker, the honor guard will raise their rifles, fire the 21-gun salute and the bugle will play “Taps,” sending the echo across the rows and rows of gleaming white markers standing in arrow-straight rows.
In case the weather is bad, the services will be held at Verle Huffman VFW Post 9644 at 2680 W. Hampden Ave. in Sheridan.
After the Fort Logan ceremonies, VFW Post 9644 and its Ladies Auxiliary will host a luncheon at the facility that is two blocks east of Federal Boulevard on Hampden Avenue.
Preparations for the ceremonies at Fort Logan begin May 29 when volunteers, most of them young people from a variety of scouting organizations, place a small American flag adjacent to each of the more than 54,000 headstones at the national cemetery, and the same day, flags will be placed on the graves of veterans buried at the Littleton Cemetery.
The first official celebration was held when Civil War Union General John Alexander Logan, who is the individual Fort Logan is named for, was commander of the Union veterans group the Grand Army of the Republic, and issued an order that asked all members to decorate the graves of American veterans on May 30, 1868, to honor those who died serving their country.
After World War I, Decoration Day became an official holiday and later, the name was changed to Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress passed the holiday act that, among other things, made Memorial Day the last Monday in May.