The first official Memorial
Day was celebrated in 1868 when Gen. John Logan declared a day to honor
the fallen solders of the Civil War.
"The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.
"In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit," Logan wrote in his General Order No. 11.
Memorial Day was later expanded to honor all veterans.
On Monday, Bismarck will honor its vets with two large events, one on the Capitol grounds and one at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, along with numerous other observances.
The first event will be the Bismarck veterans' organizations' annual observances held at 10:30 a.m. at the Capitol's All Veterans Memorial.
Each year, the event's hosting duties rotate between the different veterans' organizations in town. This year, it will be hosted by the Bismarck AMVETS with Post Commander Lyle Schuchard serving as the master of ceremonies.
"It's an honor for us to do this," Schuchard said.
The observance will begin with a moment of silence, which will be followed by speakers including Gov. John Hoeven, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and keynote speaker Col. Robert Fode.
Fode will be speaking on his experiences in Iraq.
"It's nice to be recognized as a vet and to recognize other veterans," Fode said.
Prayers will be led by Chaplain Maury Millican, who served with Fode in Iraq.
The Bismarck Ladies' Auxiliary will then present wreaths, and the observance will close with the firing from the honor guard and taps.
The observance is expected to last roughly 45 minutes.
The next event will begin at noon.
The North Dakota Veterans Cemetery Memorial will begin with opening statements by Capt. Penny Ripperger of the Air National Guard and a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flyover.
The event will feature keynote speaker Vice Adm. Jeffery Fowler, the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, and welcoming remarks from Hoeven, Conrad and Adjutant Gen. David Spryncynatyk.
There also will be the posting of colors, a Memorial Day prayer by the Rev. Terry Kern, rifle volley, taps and a 21-cannon salute.
Both events are free and open to the public.
(James Ziegler is a Bismarck State College student. He can be reached at 302-0822.)