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A Memorial Day Message from West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Secretary Thompson

5/20/2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On this Memorial Day, as you grill-out with family and friends, watch the local parade go by, or simply relax in the sun on your front deck, please be sure to pause for a moment in remembrance of what Memorial Day is really about.

Some of you may know, Memorial Day was once referred to as Decoration Day and is believed to have originated when women in the South began decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers killed in combat. Over the years, it came to be a day of remembrance, not just for Civil War soldiers, but for veterans of any era who died in service to this nation. Individuals, municipalities and states throughout the country have since developed and maintained a number of traditions as part of their Memorial Day observances. These traditions include things like wearing red poppies to symbolize the lives lost in combat, hosting or attending a parade, or placing flags on the graves of deceased veterans.

West Virginians are known to embrace tradition, and it’s a part of our culture that becomes especially evident on holidays meant to honor our veterans, bring loved ones together and celebrate our heritage. Memorial Day is no exception, and there is no shortage of opportunities to observe this important day in our state. Parades and other celebrations can be found from Point Pleasant to Weston, Fairmont to Harpers Ferry. And, in fact, Grafton, West Virginia, has the longest on-going Memorial Day parade in the country. I will be observing the holiday by participating in the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility’s Annual Memorial Day Service in Clarksburg on Friday and by attending Monday’s Memorial Service at Memorial Park in Huntington.

Here in Kanawha County, the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery (DCKMSVC) will host two different activities throughout the weekend that are open to anyone who wishes to participate. On Sunday, volunteers will place flags on every grave and niche at the cemetery and on Monday the DCKMSVC Honor Guard will host a Flag Retiring Ceremony.

These are just a few of the many events across our state that are helping to uphold important Memorial Day traditions. Regardless of how you choose to spend your weekend, please do remember the true reason for Memorial Day – to honor those who have defended our freedom. 

Contact Information

Heather Miles, 304-558-3661