All gave some, some gave all

Memorial Day weekend event planned at Miller-Woodlawn.

One hundred and forty years after Memorial Day was officially proclaimed during the Civil War, Bremerton’s Miller-Woodlawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park on Kitsap Way will be the site of a weekend-long remembrance beginning on May 25.

Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, set the day on May 5, 1868 in his General Order No. 11, and the day was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Miller-Woodlawn has been placing veterans’ flags on graves and displaying casket flags donated by veterans’ families to fly on the Avenue of Flag, which is on the site’s main driveway, for many years, but has been doing full weekend programs for just a few years, explained Miller-Woodlawn spokeswoman Susan Teale.

“A large percentage of those we inter here at Miller Woodlawn are veterans and as the community ages, the attendance on Memorial Day seems to increase,” Teale said. “The people who attend our gatherings often express a feeling of ‘community.’”

At the facility’s last fireworks display at the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall visit, the kids didn’t want to leave, she said.

“Their parents were reuniting with neighbors they hadn’t seen in a while and conversations went on into the evening as the children played close by,” she said. “There’s more to these celebrations than we can ever realize.”

As they have for many years local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be placing flags on veterans’ graves on May 24, which is important, she said.

“Besides the fact that these kids absolutely love this event and we feed them a nice lunch, this is such an important event which gives many diverse groups the opportunity to develop a strong social conscience, unite with their community, embrace patriotism, and help make the world a better place,” she said. “Young and old, the spirit of what the day means becomes clear. Everyone is encouraged to come and watch these kids and their parents walk across the park, identify veterans’ graves and place the flags. It can stir some moving emotions.”

Local Girl Scout leader Margie Torbron said the girls who participate get a great deal out of the experience.

“I believe that it is important for young women to be involved in the flag placement on the veterans’ headstones due to the fact that many of the young ladies have family that is in the Armed Forces or were and they appreciate what other families are going through and with today’s society, there are more women enlisted in the Armed Services who leave their loved ones behind,” Torbron said. “It is an experience that is unexplainable for the young ladies in Girl Scouts. We teach them character, confidence and courage. This is an opportunity for them to learn the three C’s along with leadership.”

Throughout the weekend, The ‘William C. Nitz Living History Display’ will be open to the public with an impressive collection of military memorabilia, Teale said, adding that the highlight of the event will come on the evening of May 25.

“In addition to traditional patriotic music and presentations in honor of those who have given their ultimate sacrifice, we will light up the sky with a fireworks finale on Sunday evening, May 25,” Teale said.

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