Memorial Day in the Ozarks

Memorial Day in the Ozarks

Memorial Day is the traditional kick-off to Summer with warm weather, a long weekend and every excuse in the world to indulge in some good ‘ol American BBQ.

But really, it’s much more than that.

It would do us all good to take a few minutes and remember what Memorial Day is all about.

The observance dates back to three years after the Civil War ended. According to the Veterans Administration, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, the GAR, established Decoration Day as a time for U.S. citizens to decorate the graves of America’s war dead. Major General John A. Logan reportedly chose May 30th as the designated day because flowers would likely be blooming all over the country, and those flowers could be used to adorn the graves.

Several cities across the United States claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but in 1966 the Congress and President Lyndon Johnson made it official. They named Waterloo, New York the official birthplace due to a May 1866 observance where businesses closed and flags flew at half-staff. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress and set for the last Monday in May.

Springfield takes pride in honoring its veterans every year, and you’re invited to take part in the observances at two notable cemeteries, Springfield National Cemetery and Missouri Veterans Cemetery. We recommend you check their websites and social media pages for more events and times, and don’t limit your visit to one weekend… they’re remarkable to visit all year long.

Springfield National Cemetery
1702 E. Seminole – Springfield

We drive past it constantly, but we rarely pause to consider the 18 acres of solitude that are bordered by some of the city’s most vibrant commercial and residential areas.

Established in 1867, the Springfield National Cemetery was created as a final resting place for Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the first major battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River. According to the National Park Service, more than 5,000 Union troops and 12,000 Confederate forces fought in the area near Republic, Missouri on August 10th, 1861. It ended in a Confederate victory, and it resulted in the first death of a Union General in combat; Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon died during the conflict. The cemetery is now home to the remains of heroes from all other wars and includes six acres established by the Confederate Cemetery Association in 1871.

Visitors are welcome between dawn and dusk daily to view the grounds and visit special monuments that have been erected in memoriam of fallen heroes.
The Sons of the American Revolution will host a Memorial Day Ceremony at National Cemetery at 11am on Monday, May 29th.

For directions and information on burials and eligibility visit HERE.

Springfield Veterans Cemetery
5201 S. Southwood Road – Springfield

Springfield’s Veterans Cemetery is truly a sight to see. Situated on 60 acres adjacent to Lake Springfield, the cemetery has a capacity for about 30-thousand grave sites. The cemetery came about via a partnership between The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Missouri Veterans Commission.

The groups realized that Springfield’s National Cemetery was nearing capacity and wanted to ensure that veterans would have access to a dedicated cemetery in Southwest Missouri.

Veterans Cemetery also contains three columbariums for the placement of cremated remains. The tranquil property also offers paved walkways with benches for relaxation. It’s open daily from sunrise until sunset.

The Memorial Day event at Missouri Veterans Cemetery is scheduled for 1:30 pm on Monday, May 29th.

For more Memorial Day activities at various cemeteries in Missouri visit HERE.

For information on Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield visit HERE.

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