By Gari Voss
Groups around Allegan County will gather on May 29, 2023, to honor the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military. What was once called Decoration Day is now Memorial Day, which became an official federal holiday in 1971.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, national cemeteries were established for the first time. Later that decade, cities and towns found a variety of ways to celebrate the fallen soldiers by decorating graves with flowers and offering prayers. No gathering was exactly the same,
It is not certain where the first celebration was held, but Waterloo, New York was identified as “the official birthplace” because on May 5, 1866 and thereafter, the community annually closed businesses and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags.
General John A. Logan, who led the Northern Civil War veterans, designated May 30, 1868 as the first Decoration Day because no other battle occurred on that day. General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where about 5,000 participants decorated the graves of approximately 20,000 Civil War soldiers.
In 1890, most northern states had dedicated Decoration Day as an official state holiday, while the Southern states identified another day until after World War I.
Thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 that took effect in 1971, on the last Monday in May communities and groups around Allegan County will honor not only the Civil War soldiers, but those who passed during World War I, World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean Conflict, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Communities and groups will put their own twists on the memorial services, while encouraging everyone to participate.
City of Allegan
Monday, May 29, 2023, 10:30am: Parade & Service
10:00am – all interested meet at the County Courthouse Parking Lot are encouraged to participate in the parade with no registration necessary. The American Legion and Allegan High School Band will lead the parade up Ely Street to Arbor St. then across to Oakwood Cemetery.
11:00am – service at Oakwood Cemetery with the American Legion, Scouts, Allegan High School Band, Sons of the Civil War, and more.
City of Fennville
Friday, May 26, 2023, 5-7pm: Fennville’s 4th Friday Celebration
Downtown Main Street will be busy. Cohosted by the City of Fennville and the VFW, Operation Soldier will present donations for service members overseas. Sprinkled through downtown will be a Cornhole Tournament, Boy Scouts, music, letters to veterans, and a collection of items for soldiers who are on active duty. A list is on the Fennville Facebook page.
Monday, May 29, 2023, 10am: Fennville Memorial Day Parade & Program
The Fennville VFW Post 7911 under the leadership of Quartermaster David Hopkins will sponsor the Fennville Memorial Day Parade and Memorial Service. The Parade begins with the line up on N. Maple St. at Paradise Park then proceeds South to 1st St.; East on 1st St. to Park St.; South on Park St. to Main St. (M-89); then West to the Fennville Cemetery. The VFW Post 7911 encourages veterans, community members, scout troops and other groups to gather at 9:30am and participate in the parade with decorated bicycles, golf carts, vintage automobiles, horses or floats that remember those who passed during wars. The program at the Fennville Cemetery will include prayers, music by the Fennville High School band, memorial presentations by veterans, a gun salute, and echo taps by Samuel Balder and Anthony Martinez.
City of Otsego
Monday, May 28, 2023, Noon – 3pm: Parade & Veterans Memorial Dedication
Coordinated by Otsego VFW Post 3030, the American Legion Post 84 of Otsego will lead the Parade and Veterans Memorial Dedication at the Otsego Memorial Park. For additional information, contact the VFW at 269 694 4615.
City of Plainwell
Monday, May 29, 2023, 11am: Memorial Day Parade & Remembrance
Let Them Not Be Forgotten is sponsored by the Plainwell VFW Post 9377 and the Friends of the Greater Plainwell Veterans Memorial, Inc. who invite all to come and join the Memorial Day Parade. Parade participants will begin by Ace Hardware and move to the cemetery on M89 for a ceremony to remember the fallen. Contact Cheryl at (269) 685-3413 for more information.
City of Saugatuck Memorial Day Weekend
Friday, May 27 – Monday, May 29, 2023
Monday, 9am: The Parade is sponsored by the American Legion Post #137 and starts at Culver St. then down Butler St. to Mary St. and ends at Memorial Park with a brief ceremony. Those wishing to participate (only those decorated for Memorial Day) send a text to 616 218-7278.
City of Douglas
Monday, May 28, 2023, 10am: Douglas Parade
The American Legion Post #137 travels from Saugatuck to Douglas where the Parade starts at Lake Vista SuperValu, 86 W. Center St. then proceeds down Center Street to Beery Field and is followed by a service.
Saugatuck/Douglas additional graveside services
After the Douglas service, veterans go to
10:30ish Riverside Cemetery, 3461 Clearbrook Dr., Saugatuck.
11ish Douglas Cemetery, 130th Ave., Douglas
11:30ish Plummerville Cemetery, Lakeshore Drive south of 121st Ave.
Monday, May 29, 2023, 10am: Memorial Day Service, Maplewood Cemetery
The memorial activities features the Wayland VFW, Sons of the union Civil War Veterans, Hopkins Boy Scouts Troop 96, Hopkins High School Band, and Hopkins FFA Chapter. Maplewood Cemetery is at the corner of 130th Avenue and 17th Street.
Monday, May 22, 2023, 9am: Memorial Parade & Service
The Parade begins at Martin High School, 1556 Chalmers St. in Martin and ends at Veteran’s Memorial, which is north on 10th St. out of town. Parade participants will line up at 9am and the parade steps off at 9:30am. The Parade comes out of the HS on Allegan St. and turn north 10th St. There will be a bike decorating contest for kids. This remembrance of fallen soldiers is sponsored by the Village and Township of Martin along with area veterans.
Monday, May 29, 2023, Noon: Memorial Day Events
Noon: VFW Ralph Daily, Jr. Post 6134 and Beautify Pullman will begin with the unveiling of the Veterans’ Memorial and Honor Wall at the Pullman Town Square
1pm: a free community picnic
2pm: the annual Memorial Day parade that will travel to the Lee Township Cemetery
3:30pm: Memorial Service at Lee Township Cemetery