Saugerties American Legion Lamouree Hackett Post 72 held its traditional Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 30. The ceremony follows a tradition that varies little from year to year, with the main feature of the ceremony a reading of the names of all the American service people killed in all the wars since the Civil War. This year, as most recent years, the list was read by past Commander Jim Gage.
Memorial Day honors the citizens who died in our past wars The tradition started soon after the Civil war as Decoration Day, when people placed flowers on the graves of those who died in the service of this country. By tradition, Decoration Day, or Memorial Day as it came to be called, has been celebrated on May 30. However, in 1968 Congress passed an act setting the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. The Saugerties post has maintained the traditional May 30 as Memorial Day; this year it happened to coincide with the national day.
The program opened with a medley of patriotic songs performed by the Saugerties Community Band. In his opening homily, Deacon Hank Smith of Saint Mary of the Snow/Saint Joseph Catholic Church offered thanks to the Creator, “who gave us this day.” Post 72 Auxiliary President Carolyn Maines placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and Poppy Girl Brianna Chubb followed, placing poppies at the foot of the tomb. Post 72 Chaplain Paul Peyser summarized the day’s history, going back to 1868, and founded by veterans.
Gage announced the recipients of the Legion’ $500 scholarship award: Paige Morro, Deanna Mangeriello, Addison Yang, Tyler Knapp, Ryleigh McArdle and Hannah Mills. Gage then read the names of the fallen, a lengthy process that grows longer year by year. The ceremony that followed, a muster of veterans attending the ceremony, seems to become smaller each year as the services were read out and the Community Band played their theme songs. The firing squad fired three times into the air and Deacon Smith offered a closing prayer marking the end of the ceremony.
An informal gathering followed, at which refreshments were served. The Post Museum, under the leadership of Bill Payne, was open for Memorial Day and is generally available by appointment only. Much of Payne’s own family history is on display at the museum, including his old uniforms, insignia and medals. The collection, mainly contributed by veterans, goes back to the Civil War and includes weapons, uniforms, equipment and documents.