Remember WWII Vets This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in our nation’s service. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on graves of Civil War soldiers; hence the original designation “Decoration Day.” Within 20 years, the holiday was renamed Memorial Day. Instead of a day to honor those who died during the War Between the States, it became a day to recognize all Americans who died fighting in any war.       

Diana Trainor, owner/operator of Apple Blossom Floral Shoppe, Boonville, demonstrated how to make Memorial Day wreaths at the Boonville Historical Club's May 3 meeting.

 A Congressional declaration in 1971 moved the traditional observance from May 30 to the last Monday of the month, a move that has diminished the true meaning of Memorial Day. Many people, especially veterans, would like the original date restored. They feel that when Congress created a three-day weekend, it distracted citizens from the spirit and meaning of the intended observance.        

This month (May 2010) marks the 65th anniversary of Allied victory in Europe during World War II. V-E Day was celebrated on May 8, 1945, when a treaty was ratified after Germany’s unconditional surrender. Fifty years later, during the war’s end  anniversary observance, William Detweiler, National Commander of the American Legion at the time, wrote,        

On this Memorial Day, it’s fitting that we Americans pay special tribute to the men and women who gave their lives while serving in America’s armed forces during that war…”        

 It’s an appeal that 15 years later is especially appropriate, as veterans from that era – those of the Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw called them – are rapidly passing away.          

Boonville's Monument to its many WWII veterans and all those of the Greatest Generation. A project of the local Charles J. Love, DSC, American Legion Post #406, it was dedicated on Memorial Day 2004.

     Fourteen men from Boonville made the supreme sacrifice in WWII. They were:       

  • Robert Brach
  • Grant Galarneau
  •  Harland Hennessey
  • Joseph Hamlin
  • Francis Lahah
  • Douglas Lambert
  • Walter Leaf
  •  Donald Miller
  •  Norwood Oper
  •  Clifford Phillips
  •  Stanley Sargent
  • Victor Strobel
  • William Wardale
  • Edwin Wisnieski

Many others from the area were among the 16 million men and women who served in the United States  armed forces  during the war.  Americans need to remember the sacrifices of  these and all the men and women who served.     

 And this Memorial Day is a perfect time to do just that. As you enjoy the day with family and friends, remember these words of  Commander Detweiler, written in 1995:         

 “I hope that Americans across this nation will pause to pay tribute not only to those who died in service, but to their friends and relatives – their personal heroes – who served in World War II…They are the men and women who saved America and the free world from absolute, certain destruction.”        

Boonville's 2009 Memorial Day Parade


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Filed under Boonville, History, Military

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