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Al Heidenreich's Veterans Views: Memorial Day on the mind

May 16. 2018 10:01PM

Happy Decoration Day!

OK, for those of you younger than me, which I estimate to be 96.4 percent of the population, “Decoration Day” is the original title of the national holiday we will all observe on May 28, namely Memorial Day, which is a time set aside to honor those who have paid the highest price so that the rest of us can live the life we enjoy today.

The origin of the event was thought to have taken place when a group of women from below the Mason-Dixon line decorated (Decoration Day, get it?) the final resting places of Confederate soldiers with flags and flowers after the Civil War, or the “War between the States,” to be politically correct. For many years there was considerable bitterness and controversy between the “Rebel” and “Yankee” residents over observance, which remained for much longer than you might think. It was present into the ’50s and then some. Take the word of one who spent well over a year of his service time there.

While a number of towns and cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Waterloo, N.Y., the distinction on May 26, 1966. In June 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, changing the date of the holiday from May 30 to the last Monday of the month.

National Poppy Day

May 25 is the official National Poppy Day designation. You will find veterans’ groups and other ladies and gentlemen manning positions in various busy locations around the state, and any and all of these volunteers will be happy and most grateful to accept your donation of any size to fund their programs in the community. Another example of veterans continuing to serve.

This weekend will see members of Manchester’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 8214 in various local venues. Thank you in advance for your donation. One hundred percent of the proceeds stay local. Lord willing, I will be at the Elm Street liquor store (how appropriate) on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. Stop by, say hi and pass some green.

Back to Memorial Day

We hope for large turnouts at all the events statewide, and there are many being held. I would love to have the space to list them all here, but you can contact your local veterans’ post for more listings.

The Queen City will showcase its usual presentation by the Veterans Council in Manchester, headed by commander Dan Beliveau, who informs me that no fewer than seven marching bands are committed, along with veterans’ groups, Girl and Boy Scout troops, Sea Cadets, and ROTC and Civil Air Patrol members. Beautifully and lovingly restored antique military vehicles will also be present.

The parade starts at 2 p.m. on Memorial Day and will proceed down Elm Street, rain or shine.

Grand Marshal for 2018 is Manchester High School West alum (1948) James T. “Jim” Connolly, who served during the Korean War years and was part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. He is a member of the New Hampshire Korean War Veterans Association and has also been active for many years in the honor guard, color guard and firing squad at Henry J. Sweeney Post 2, where he holds Gold Card membership. Obviously well deserved.

Flag-raising bonus

Immediately after the parade and Memorial Day ceremonies, five flag poles and 20 benches — funded by the Veterans Council — will be dedicated at Veterans Park, thanks to a joint effort between the Council and the city of Manchester’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

The five flags of the five branches of the military will be raised.

Flag and pole sponsors include Henry J. Sweeney Post 2 (Army flag), VFW Memorial Post 8214 (Air Force flag), the Granite State Marine Detachment of the Marine Corps League (Marines flag) and the Catholic War Veterans of New Hampshire (Navy flag); the Coast Guard sponsor is pending. Bench sponsors will be announced at the ceremony. Several benches are still available for sponsorship; call 512-2793 or 669-8058.

Al Heidenreich is past commander of Henry J. Sweeney American Legion Post 2. Write to Al with your questions and comments at

Manchester Veterans

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