As unbelievable as it may seem, Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
While this weekend is traditionally accompanied by celebrations, barbecues, and trips to our beautiful shores, we must reflect upon what this weekend truly symbolizes. While it is always appropriate to thank those who serve our country, let's not confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day. On Memorial Day, we remember those who died in service to our nation, fighting for the freedoms we hold dear.
After a difficult 2020, when nearly all in-person Memorial Day services were canceled due to the pandemic, we are now seeing a return to some semblance of normalcy as we honor our fallen heroes.
One celebration in particular that I am proud to be attending will occur at Bartlett Pond Park in Middle Island on Monday, May 31, at 11 a.m. Carlie Preudhomme, a Longwood Junior High School student, recently completed a research assignment focused on Civil War soldier Albert J. Freeman. Through her research, and with the help of her family, educators, and local librarian Melanie Cardone-Leathers, Carlie confirmed that Freeman was born in Middle Island in 1840 and served in the United States Colored Troops from 1863-1864. Freeman sadly succumbed to Yellow Fever at the tender age of 23 shortly after.
Freeman fought for our country, despite enduring the unspeakable hardships of indentured servitude, and for that, we can never truly repay him. Despite not receiving the recognition he deserved in his short time on earth, Carlie's work has brought his memory and honor to the forefront, and his name will be added to the Longwood Civil War Memorial during Monday's service.
The United Veterans Organization of Patchogue will be honoring the fallen, both virtually and in-person, this holiday weekend.
The VFW Post 2913, American Legion 269, and AMVETS 111 will be laying flags at the Lakeview Cemeteries in Patchogue on Saturday, May 29 at 10 a.m. with the Boy Scouts' support. These separate but connected cemeteries are the final resting place for countless service members dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Then, on Monday, May 31, these same veterans’ groups will be hosting a ceremony at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park on South Ocean Avenue. While residents are welcome to join the event in person, please be mindful that space is limited due to continued concerns about COVID-19.
The event will also be live-streamed on the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and the VFW Post 2913 Facebook page.
In addition to the various in-person and virtual events that will be taking place, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is launching new features on the Veterans Legacy Memorial site this month. Friends, family, and fellow veterans are able to honor any veteran interred in a VA national cemetery with photos, documents, and longer length biographical sketches of their veteran. For more information, visit www.vlm.cem.va.gov.
Whatever you choose to do this Memorial Day to honor those brave souls who are no longer with us, I ask you to keep their memory and legacy with you. I extend my sincere gratitude to all those mourning the loss of a servicemember both this weekend and always. Thank you, and God bless.
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