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Memorial Day ceremonies honor America's veterans

"Ashley Gabelein, the official Poppy Girl for South Whidbey's American Legion Post 141, holds a bouquet of Buddy Poppies the Legion Auxiliary is selling for Memorial Day.Matt Johnson / staff photoBuddy PoppiesWith Memorial Day 2001 on the horizon, people will see the familiar Buddy Poppies being sold at stores and other South Whidbey establishments today. During the Buddy Poppy campaign, veterans organizations seek donations from the community to contribute to the welfare of veterans, including the well-being of their children and dependents. In exchange, donors receive a bright red poppy to wear, which are themselves made by hospitalized veterans. There will be wreaths of flowers decorating cemeteries this weekend, and words spoken that memorialize the courageous deeds and loyalty of the servicemen and women who have died in the service of their country.Originally proclaimed Decoration Day on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan in his General Order No. 11, the holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868. After the Civil War, many people in the North and the South decorated graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, said Glenn Nichols, member of VFW Post 7482 and also a Legionnaire. After Decoration Day was proclaimed, the South refused to acknowledge it, Nichols said, and honored their dead on a different day until after World War I. The name was changed to Memorial Day in 1882, to honor soldiers who had died in all wars.In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday, to be observed on the last Monday in May.Many patriots and others still honor their dead from the Civil War and all wars by displaying their flags at half-staff until noon on the original date of May 30, Nichols said. Here on Whidbey, the annual Coupeville Memorial Day Parade will take place today, May 26, and two South Whidbey ceremonies will mark Memorial Day on Monday, May 28.The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Coupeville High School and marches to City Park. This year's theme is Multigenerational Memories. NAS Whidbey base commander, Captain Larry Salter, and members of the Whidbey 24 from VQ-1 are among those who will participate. Salter will also be the keynote speaker for the Remembrance Ceremony at the park immediately following the parade.At the Clinton Cemetery on Monday, May 28, Daughters of the American Revolution will be part of a service beginning at 11 a.m. Boy Scout Troop 57 will raise the flag. The Pledge of Allegiance will be recited, and those in attendance will sing God Bless America and the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Pastor John Groce will give the invocation and benediction, and Lt. Keith White of NAS Whidbey will deliver the memorial address. Roy Simmons will then read the names of those buried in the cemetery, and the Boy Scouts will play Taps.Servicemen and women will also be honored at ceremonies at Bayview Cemetery, beginning at 11 a.m. and including color guards from the South Whidbey American Legion Post 141 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7482.A rifle squad will give a 21-gun salute, and Jenny Westphal, a student at South Whidbey High School, will play Taps. Following the ceremony, all are invited to a potluck at the Legion Hall. American Legion Post Commander Chuck Hinckel noted that Congress recently passed a bill approving construction of a World War II memorial on the mall in Washington D.C. The American Legion and its affiliated organizations, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion, have donated more than $4 million to help build the $140 million memorial at the Rainbow Pool site.We are elated that, finally, our nation will have a permanent tribute to the heroes of the 20th century, Hinckel said. "

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