For many, Memorial Day signifies the beginning of summer, the end of a school year and the opening of the neighborhood pool. It is easy to forget the true meaning of Memorial Day.
It is a day to remember and honor those who have died while serving our country. American Legion Post 86, along with the Cornelius PARC Department, will hold a ceremony in Legion Park May 29 that will honor fallen soldiers. American Legion Post 86 not only plans this event each year, they provide programs to service men and women and their families in our community every day.
The Blue Star banner program is just one of the services that the American Legion participates in each year. They contact the families of service members who are on active duty and present them with a blue star banner that can be displayed in a home window. They also send a letter to the service member thanking him or her for serving and letting him know that they are looking forward to his safe return home. Along with the letter is a $50 calling card.
Once service members return home, they receive a "Heroes to Hometowns" celebration that is held at either an American Legion meeting or at a Cornelius Commissioners meeting. The Heroes to Hometown program also ensures that each service member and their families get assistance for a successful transition back to civilian life.
In addition to these services, the American Legion Post 86 hosts dinners for patients in local veterans hospitals and they support wounded warrior programs.
Working with youth of the community is always a meaningful experience for American Legion members. "We are involved in the JROTC programs as much as possible," said American Legion Cmdr. John Washam. Each year, they present Hopewell High's JROTC members with medals during the annual year-end awards ceremony
American Legion Post 86 is integral in the coordination of the Memorial Day Ceremony. This year, they have a great lineup of events. Washam will be the master of ceremonies. The invocation will be done by the Rev. Mike Bailey of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church followed by a welcome speech by Mayor Jeff Tarte. Hopewell High School's JROTC, along with American Legion will post the colors. Singers from Mount Zion and Bethel Presbyterian will sing the national anthem as well as patriotic songs sprinkled throughout the ceremony. The keynote address is by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ron Rosser. A 21-gun salute is planned.