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Memorial Days Past!

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!


Memorial Day will be observed in the United States on Monday, May 27. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. From 1868 to 1970, it was observed on May 30 no matter what day of the week. Originally called Decoration Day, since 1971, it is observed on the last Monday of May and known as Memorial Day.

            A long description of the 1921 Millinocket Memorial Day parade appeared in the newspaper. The afternoon parade included “khaki-clad heroes of the great World War” (World War I which had ended a few short years before) and members of the Donald V. Henry Post #80 of the American Legion. At the armory (on Central Street), the local company of the 3rd Maine National Guard and the Millinocket Band assembled. “In twos and threes children dressed in cool summer attire, supervised by their teachers formed into line.”

            The parade got under way, with autos carrying Mr. Ray, Millinocket’s only living Civil War veteran, Mr. & Mrs. Bradley, Mrs. Donald Henry, Sr., Mrs. Skinner and Mrs. Sutherland, all of whom had lost someone in WWI. Members of the Women’s Army Relief Corps were next in line followed by the school children.

            The article continues with a lengthy description of the ceremony at the cemetery. The parade participants and spectators arranged themselves in a great circle on the brow of the hill looking over the town. The scene is described as beautiful “with the khaki and olive drab, the white dresses of the women and girls and the fluttering of the hundreds of American flags carried by the children.” The Millinocket High School chorus sang, prayers were said, a patriotic address was given and the 3rd Maine (National Guard) fired a salute. Many beautiful “hot house flowers” had been placed earlier by the Women’s Relief Corps, The Sons of Veterans and many individuals.

            Prior to the actual observance, special remembrances took place at various churches and a wreath and bouquet were placed at the Millinocket Memorial Library, created a few years previously and named in honor of WWI veterans.

An article from 1923, describes that Decoration Day as having “a tinge of cold” in the air and the younger children had been “advised not to participate” leaving the “section of the procession devoted to scholars was somewhat depleted.” This 1923 procession to the cemetery began at the Armory, proceeded down Main Street, then a portion of State Street to Medway Road and the cemetery where a large crowd awaited the ceremony there.

Visit the Millinocket Cemetery to see large monument dedicated in 1947 to veterans who gave their lives in WWI and WWII. There are also smaller monuments for veterans and veterans’ organizations. Visit the graves of local military men & women whose graves have flags placed each year in special markers. A large memorial in the park downtown is dedicated to those who fought in WWI, WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

1946 July 4th photo

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