The holiday that we know as Memorial Day, dates back to the time shortly after the Civil War. General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the first major Memorial Day on May 30, 1868 to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers.
On that first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery.
The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. It is now believed that Waterloo, NY was the first community to observe Memorial Day in 1866, when businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.
There are several observances planned locally:
City of Newburgh
The city’s observances will begin on Saturday, when members of the Parade Committee will be distributing staff flags in front of the Newburgh Activity Center, 401 Washington Street from 10 a.m. -12 noon for decorating the graves of deceased veterans.
On Sunday, Newburgh VFW members and friends will drive to local cemeteries and monuments for services with a color guard on Sunday morning. The motorcade will depart from the monument in front of the former American Legion Hall, 62 Grand Street at 8:30 a.m. for a circuit that takes about two hours.
Special Events Coordinator, Regina Angelo and the Newburgh Memorial Day Parade Committee have announced that the City of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade will be held on Monday, May 30.
The City of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade Committee will also be honoring three Veterans who served their country, their community and the Memorial Day Parade for many, many years.
“They tackled any jobs they were asked to do for the Memorial Day Parade and other occasions. They were always by my side to help,” said Angelo, Special Events Coordinator and former City of Newburgh Councilwoman and Deputy Mayor.
“Although they are deceased, we will never forget them and want to give them accolades and deep appreciation.”
Eugene Lorenzo Siles Watkins deceased Nov 5, 2021
Charles Arthur Leo, deceased March 25, 2021
Richard W. Drago, deceased August 21, 2021
Line-up for the parade will be at 9:15 a.m. on Third Street, Richman Avenue and Valley Avenue facing West Street. Step-off will be at 10 a.m. sharp from West Street. Marchers will proceed down Broadway to Liberty Street and, from there, to Washington’s Headquarters, where a short ceremony will follow. This year’s Grand Marshal is Robert Lare. Parade Marshal and Committer Chairperson is Bruce Lubkeman.
For more information on the parade, call Mary Keller at 845-565-2138, Ann Kuzmik at 845-837-9815, or Brian Denniston at 845-561-1131.
Memorial Day services will conclude at the Orange County Veterans Memorial at the intersection of Liberty Street and LeRoy Place at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 30, 2022. There, the names of all 820 Orange County men and women who died in service during the wars of the 20th century will be read aloud along with the names of those Orange County residents who died in service since 9/11/2001. The public is welcome and invited to participate by reading a page of names, perhaps including a family member. For more information, please contact David McTamaney at 845-562-8419.
Town of Newburgh
Grand Marshal Hal Tragis invites all to attend the Town of Newburgh Memorial Service at Town Hall, on Sunday, May 29 at 11 a.m.
The 2022 Town of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade will be held on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m.
The parade route is the same as prior years: beginning at the American Legion Hall on Union Avenue, right onto Route 300, left onto Route 52 and left on t Powder Mill Road, ending at Cronomer and Algonquin Park.
Town of New Windsor
The town held its parade this past weekend, but there will be a special program on Saturday at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, 374 Temple Hill Road, New Windsor.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Temple Hill Day Program which took place May 28, 1932 on the same grounds. At that ceremony, 136 local veterans of World War I were awarded their Purple Heart medals.
The program will include a presentation on the original Temple Hill Day program, the formal opening of a new rotating exhibit about the Temple Hill Day Program, and the formal awarding of the Purple Heart Medal to a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
There will also be a walking tour of Temple Hill, discussing the role it played during the American Revolution and its connection to why it was selected as a site for the Washington Bicentennial celebration.
Admission is free, but advanced reservations are required for the program which will take place in the presentation room at the Hall of Honor as seating is limited. Please call 845-561-1765 to make a reservation.