Fire up the grill and greet your guests with red, white and blue bunting. It’s the unofficial start of summer. Time to have family gatherings, march in parades, or open the pool.

Borne out of the Civil War and originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and it would take over 100 years to become an official Federal holiday in 1971. My mother and grandmother called it Decoration Day and I grew up spending the day (and sometimes the day before) traveling to remote country cemeteries “decorating” family graves with various colorful flowers. We would meet extended family members and old friends –some even brought picnics – something my husband scoffed at. Eat in the cemetery? Never.

At age 19, my father served in the Army two months after the official end of WWII.  Dad’s civilian and military occupation was “Baker”. I am so proud he feed his fellow soldiers as they readied to return to civilian life and back to their families.

Randy’s father, William Galvin “Bill” Yohe’s military records are proving a challenge to obtain, but we know a few things. Bill served in the United States Army from May 24, 1943 until his honorable discharge on November 5, 1945. According to Randy, he didn’t talk about the war much, but he remembers him saying that he was with an engineering outfit that built and blew up bridges in Italy. He recalled that Bill said he often rode “shotgun” on a tank with a B.A.R. We are currently waiting for records from the National Archives to verify and find out more.

Whether you grill, picnic, parade or visit a family cemetery, it is a time to honor those who have served our country in every capacity. Randy and I have watched and participated in parades, visited memorials and grilled a few burgers over the years. This year, I think we will do a little decorating – maybe even have a little picnic!

Clyde Arnold Long shortly after WWII

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