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Four days of holiday events planned for Memorial Day

Boulder City residents will join with people nationwide Monday to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the service of our nation.

A variety of observances are planned to commemorate Memorial Day.

According to usmemorialday.org, the holiday came about as a way to honor the dead after the Civil War. In its early incarnation, the holiday was observed primarily in Northern states, with those in the South recognizing their dead on separate days.

After World War I, the observance was changed to honor Americans who died serving the country. Still, it wasn’t until 1971 and the passage of the National Holiday Act that the last Monday in May became a holiday nationwide.

In Boulder City, Memorial Day activities begin Friday with Poppy Day. Members of American Legion Post 31 and its Ladies Auxiliary will be in front of area businesses from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to distribute poppies and accept donations.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the practice of wearing poppies stems from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written in 1915 by John McCrae. It tells of poppies blooming where some of the worst battles of World War I were fought. Today, the red poppies serve as a reminder of the sacrifice and blood spilled.

Proceeds from the poppy collections benefit organizations supported by the American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary, as well as other veterans groups that distribute them.

On Saturday, flags will be placed at the graves of veterans buried in Boulder City Cemetery, 551 Adams Blvd., and Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Veterans Memorial Drive. Volunteers are needed to help at both cemeteries.

Work at the veterans memorial cemetery will begin at 7 a.m., according to Bob Garlow, past state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. After a short instructional session in front of the chapel, volunteers will head out to the various sections throughout the cemetery where they will place the flags.

Garlow said the National Order of Trench Rats of the Disabled American Veterans is in charge of the flag distribution.

“We are expecting quite a number of people (to help),” he said, noting they will place about 25,000 flags in 45 minutes.

At Boulder City Cemetery, flags will be placed starting at 9 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Sunday’s Flags Over the Dam will feature hundreds of motorcyclists who will make their way to the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery from Hoover Dam.

They are scheduled to leave the Arizona side of the dam at 10 a.m. and arrive at the veterans cemetery for a service conducted by the Special Forces Association, Chapter 51, with assistance from various Vietnam veterans motorcycle clubs. According to Al Hendley of the Special Forces Association, the ceremony will begin between 11 and 11:30 a.m., depending on when the motorcyclists arrive.

Monday observances begin with 9 a.m. services at Boulder City Cemetery. They will be hosted by American Legion Post 31 and its Ladies Auxiliary, with additional participation and assistance from members of Boy Scout Troop 7.

The largest ceremony of the day will begin at 1 p.m. at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Garlow said the service will be conducted by Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 36 of Boulder City, with help from various other veterans and military organizations including the Scottish American Military Society, Post, 711; Women Veterans of Nevada and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps from Chaparral High School.

Keynote speakers for the service will be Willette Gerald, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, and Lt. Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez of the Navy Operational Support Center in Las Vegas.

Garlow said he expects the event to be “standing room only. In the past we have had over 1,000 people for the ceremony. It’s tremendous.”

After the ceremony concludes, there will be a flyover from the Boulder City Veterans Pilot Group, and volunteers will be asked to help gather up the flags placed at the graves.

Light refreshments will be served.

Monday’s observance concludes at 3 p.m. when a minute of silence will be observed in downtown Boulder City. A siren will sound to signal the start of the observance. Taps will be played at the conclusion.

The American Legion is sponsoring the minute of silence in honor of those who died in service to our country.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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