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Honor Those Who Served this Memorial Day!

Week #63: Learn about the origins of the Memorial Day Holiday and celebrate this year by attending the Greendale American Legion events. Post 416 Military Funeral Honors Team performs special ceremonies for veterans.

History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.

History and Folklore!

The American Civil War reached the depth and breadth of the United States and its people. Remembering those who had died in such great numbers started even before the war ended. Different sections of the country memorialized the dead in different ways and on different days. The first known observance was on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. Freed slaves organized a May Day ceremony to honor the Union soldiers who died as prisoners of war in Charleston and were buried in unmarked graves. Years later it was recognized as the “First Decoration Day”.

“Decoration Day” as it was originally called commemorated Union soldiers who died in the American Civil War. The Southern States also started traditions to honor their fallen dead under various names. Gradually the observances became known as “Memorial Day” and were extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. “Memorial Day” was declared the official name by Federal Law in 1967. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill which moved four holidays to a specified Monday in order to create three-day weekends. This moved Memorial Day from the traditional May 30th date to the last Monday in May.

Records show that Greendale celebrated Memorial Day early after being open for residents in 1938. Several pictures exist that show the ceremony took place around the Flag Pole with the Hauser Sculpture.started in Greendale in 1939 and patriotism seemed to go hand in hand with the family and religious values of the community. For as many years as I can remember the American Legion has been sponsoring the Memorial Day ceremonies with a graveside tribute, a parade, and a patriotic program at . This year Memorial Day will be celebrated on

  • 8:00 AM         Good Hope Cemetery Graveside Tribute
                          Legion Post 416 Firing Squad, Greenfield High School ROTC
  • 8:30AM          Memorial Day Parade
                          Parking Street to Northway to Southway to Greendale High School
  • 9:30AM          Memorial Day Patriotic Program
                          Greendale High School, Speakers, Patriotic Music, 21-gun Salute with Echo Taps and Flag Ceremony

I like to think that those of us working on these stories, and those of you reading them, are finding them more than just entertaining. We’re learning how our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents came to Greendale, what it was like growing up, about the schools, the churches, the businesses, the government, the organizations they created and belonged to. We’re finding out what they valued and why Greendale is this special place that continues to attract new residents, along with the 3rd and 4th generations of families. I hope this is inspiring us to perpetuate those values, to support the schools, the churches, the businesses, the government and organizations to keep this community strong. This Memorial Day would be a great time to demonstrate a lesson learned. Consider attending one of the Memorial Day events in the Village or in any of the surrounding communities. Show that you remember and honor those who have served and sacrificed for our Country in time of war.     

People, Past & Present!

Honoring and remembering all the men and women who have served the United States of America is something we all can do, and something members of the American Legion, Women’s Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Sons of American Legion do regularly. But there is a group of veterans that display their honor in a very unique and meaningful way. They are the 30 plus members of the American Legion Post 416 Military Funeral Honors Team. Far too many times every week this team of veterans known also as the Firing Squad performs at funerals of veterans. Called on very short notice they congregate at the American Legion Post, travel to the church or gravesite, and along with the representatives of the veterans’ service (Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines) participate in this ritual ceremony.

The Captain of the Firing Squad, Bill Mullaley, explained the four parts of the ceremony to me. First there is the reading of the Farewell Salute. These are the words read to the family and friends:

THIS HONOR GUARD IS HERE TO OFFER A FAREWELL SALUTE TO OUR DEPARTED COMRADE (NAME), WHO SERVED HIS COUNTRY WITH HONOR

PROUDLY WE REMEMBER OUR COMRADES SERVICE IN TIME OF WAR AND PEACE. BECAUSE OF (NAME), AND MEN LIKE HIM, OUR LIVES ARE FREE, BECAUSE OF THEM OUR NATION LIVES, BECAUSE OF THEM OUR WORLD IS BLESSED.

MAY THE CEREMONY TODAY DEEPEN OUR REVERENCE FOR OUR DEAD AND FOR OUR BELOVED COUNTRY.

Next, the Firing Squad fires three volleys with their rifles and a bugler plays taps. Third, there is a folding of the American Flag by the representatives of the veterans’ service and the presentation of the flag to the family. While the flag is being folded a member of the Rifle Squad explains what the components and colors of the flag represent. Finally, the Rifle Squad presents a small blue pouch with 7 cartridges and a poppy to the family. Bill explained that the members of the team train on each aspect of the ceremony to make sure they perform it precisely as prescribed. They take pride in their uniforms and how they conduct themselves on such solemn occasions.

Last Friday I attended one of these ceremonies performed by Post 416’s Firing Squad and representatives of the Army. The pageantry was spectacular in itself, but that only made the ceremony more impressive. I’ve been at funerals before where military honors were performed but this time I was able to understand it better. I could see how much the family appreciated the ceremony, and afterwards many of those in attendance personally thanked the Honors Team members.

I asked Bill if it wasn’t difficult going to all these funerals. At first he said that they concentrate on the ceremony and it doesn’t affect them too much. But then he shared that it’s tough burying so many Post members. “It’s tough when you know them and the family personally”, he said. I can’t imagine. That’s what makes the Honors Team so special. They’ve created lasting memories for so many families in the last 50 years by honoring their loved ones. They don’t do it for the recognition, but they deserve some. Well done and thank you to all the members of the Post 416 Military Funeral Honors Team. 

But did you know?

The firing squad had an auspicious start at where else but . (Note: For those of you wondering like me, auspicious means ‘suggesting that future success is likely’.) Someone asked a member of the American Legion whether the Greendale Post had a firing squad. Upon finding out
they did not he gave the member $100 to get one started. For the past 50 years American Legion Post 416 has had a Firing Squad thanks to that $100. Of course honorable mention should also go to Rays & Dots.  

Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:

– There are seven churches in Greendale: Greendale Baptist, Greendale Community, Our Shepherd, St. Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, St Stephen the Martyr, and St. Thomas of Canterbury. Note: The New Day Church holds services at Martin Luther High School.

Week#63 Question – What famous woman visited Greendale while it was being built?

** Week #63 contributors Sally Chadwick, Ted Mainella, Greendale Historical Society, Bill Mullaley, and Dave Bauer.

Teresa Stricklen May 21, 2012 at 03:06 PM
At 9:00 A.M. on Monday, May 28th, 2012 FOREST HILL MEMORIAL PARK, located at 3301 E. Forest Hill Avenue, Oak Creek WI, will hold its annual Memorial Day Veteran’s Tribute. For many decades families have honored deceased veterans by attending this event held by Meyer-Dziedzic—Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8482 and Oelschlaeger-Dallmann—American Legion Post #434 and sponsored by the cemetery. Activities will begin with an in-cemetery parade to the New Veterans Garden of Honor section where the Raising of the Colors will take place and the attendees will join together to sing the National Anthem led by The Easy Days Quartet. The Pledge of Allegiance will be recited by Cub Scout Pack 330 followed by a touching invocation by the chaplain of VFW Post #8482. Among the speakers at the ceremony will be Joe Maniscalco, Commander V.F.W. Post #8482, Jim “Ozzie” Oswald, Commander American Legion Post #434, Wisconsin State Assemblyman Mark Honadel, Mayor of Oak Creek Steve Scaffidi and Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson. Bakery and refreshments will be served after the event. Please stop in and tour our newest addition to the Chapel Mausoleum. Following your visit everyone is invited to the American Legion Post #434 for hot dogs, ice cream and soda. The Post address is 9327 South Shepard Ave, Oak Creek. The public is encouraged to bring a lawn chair and attend. Designated area for handicapped parking and easy access. For information, please call 414-762-4446.
Teresa Stricklen May 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
At 10:00AM on Monday, May 28th, 2012 ARLINGTON PARK CEMETERY, located at 4141 S. 27TH Street, Greenfield WI, will hold its annual Memorial Day Veteran’s Tribute in conjunction with the Milwaukee County Council and American Legion, Fire Fighters Post 426, and Lakeshore Post 474. For over 65 years families have honored deceased veterans by attending this event. Activities will begin with an in-cemetery parade to the American Legion Section, the Invocation and Presentation of the Flag and Placing and Dedication of the Wreath. Betty Moore and Risen Savior Bible Choir Quartet will perform beautiful patriotic numbers throughout the program which includes Roll Call honoring the veterans laid to rest at Arlington Park Cemetery during the past year, the Honor Guard Salute and “Taps”. Comments during the program will be offered by John Edelblute, Past American Legion Milwaukee County Commander. Our keynote speaker is Warren Skonieczny, retired Deputy Chief of Milwaukee Fire Department. Bagpiper Steve Curran will perform “Amazing Grace” accompanying a touching dove release to commemorate the event. Following the program, everyone is invited for refreshments. Held rain or shine, the service takes place along the 27th Street on East side of the property, South of the main gate. The public is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and attend. Designated area for handicapped parking and easy access. For detailed information, please call 414-282-6600.
Teresa Stricklen May 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM
At 9:30 A.M. on Monday, May 28th, 2012 WOODLAWN CEMETERY, located at 614 E Howard Ave in Bayview, will hold its annual Memorial Day Veterans Tribute. This event has been a well attended tradition for many years. There will be an Invocation by Pastor Ton Griffey of the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and Presentation of the Memorial Wreath by Cub Scout Packs #208 and #579. Our featured speakers this year will be Ken Tyborski of Heritage Funeral Homes And Historian David Wiedenkeller in character as FRANCIS SCOTT KEY. The reading of the names of Veterans that have been laid to rest during the past year will be followed by a Dove Release accompanied by “Amazing Grace”. Following the program there will be refreshments served and a balloon memorial. The Flags of Remembrance will be on display. Each flag, donated by the family, honors a veteran at rest in Woodlawn Cemetery. Their name and branch of service will be displayed on the flagstaff. Held rain or shine, the service takes place near the main entrance. The public is encouraged to bring a lawn chair and take part. There are designated areas for handicapped parking. For further information, please call 414-744-4601.

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