In May 1868, Major General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance to pay tribute to those who gave their lives serving our country. The last Monday in May is set aside each year to honor our servicemen and women who answered the call to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in defense of our great nation.
Memorial Day is an opportunity to honor our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Merchant Mariners who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is an important opportunity to honor our Gold Star Mothers and their families.
Memorial Day remembers our 175-war dead. It is your special day to visit the Fallen Heroes at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial or Tioga County Civil War Union Memorial in the Courthouse Square, or the Civil War Section of Historic Evergreen Cemetery.
Consider visiting a local cemetery where a Fallen Hero is eternally resting. While in the cemetery it is also meaningful to pay respects to veterans who honorably served their country in time of war or peace. While there say out loud the inscription from the veteran’s marker or headstone. Thank the veteran for his sacrifice and service. Say a prayer. Salute.
Stand in front of the Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and World War I Memorial. At random select a name. Say it out loud. Thank the Fallen Hero for his sacrifice for our freedom. In your own words say a prayer. Salute.
Fallen Heroes Overseas
Pause to remember our WWII Fallen Heroes buried in European cemeteries near battlefields where they died.
Erwin Flohr, of Helmond, Netherlands, visits the graves of four Tioga County Heroes in Netherlands American Cemetery where there are 8,301 graves and 1,722 graves of service members who were missing in action. Buried are Army Sgt. Richard Hoyt of Candor, Army Private Walter R. Magee of Lounsberry, Army Private First Class Glenn A. Warner of Owego, and Private First Class Richard Whalen of Straits Corners.
Flohr also goes to Henri-Chappel Cemetery in Belgium to honor the graves of Tioga County Fallen Heroes Army 2nd Lt. Albert Church of Nichols, and Army Pfc. James LaDue of Waverly.
No American Flags were placed this year at Dartmore Park, England because Bern Trout died recently. He and his beloved wife Pat placed seven flags at a memorial where a B25 crashed on Christmas Day. Among the victims was Owego Army Sergeant First Class Mario “Bucket” Panetti.
Tioga County Fallen Heroes are also buried in American Cemeteries in Ardennes, Belgium, Lorraine in France, Luxemburg, Cambridge, Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Manila American Cemetery and in Denmark at a memorial erected by Danish Navy Veterans.
Flags-In at Tioga County Cemeteries
About 5,000 Tioga County veterans are eternally sleeping under a new red, white and blue American flag. In about 65 Tioga County cemeteries, volunteer Boy, Girl and Cub Scouts, veterans, youth and volunteers showed respect with “Flags In” ceremonies in the days before Memorial Day.
Around 4,000 flags were placed in Eastern Tioga County cemeteries, thanks to procurement and distribution by the American Legion Post 401’s Tom Simons and his Flag Detail Teams.
County Historian Emma Sedore says the earliest Memorial Day (Decoration Day until the turn of the century) in the Village of Owego was May 30, 1891. It was just before the official dedication of the Union Civil War Monument on July 4, 1891. The first National Celebration took place on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Join the Parade
To line up for the parade on Monday, report to Parade Chairman John Loftus from 9:30 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. on Temple Street by the Owego Police Station. You may march or ride in your car, pickups, and vans. Car clubs, organizations, veterans, political businesses, fire departments, OLL players, and emergency squads are all invited to march with an invited veteran or Gold Star Family. School children are welcome to march and wave flags.
Chairman Loftus moves the parade led by police units at 10 a.m. sharp. Streets to hear the OFA Marching Band are south on North, east on Main, south on Paige, and west on Front and ending at the memorials. Marching, or riding, are veterans from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 480, Tioga Post 401 American Legion, and Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 Veterans of Foreign Wars and active service personnel.
Owego’s DPW Flag Detail put up flags greeting motorists 24/7 on the Court Street Bridge. They remember the sacrifices of Tioga County Fallen Heroes, especially those on the second WWII Memorial after being inadvertently missed on the first.
Owego DPW will lower the flags to half-staff at dawn to remember the war dead. The VFW Honor Guard will raise the flags to full staff at noon to honor living veterans.
Roll Call of Remembrance
After 8 a.m. the 55th annual Roll Call of Remembrance for Tioga County veterans buried in 65 cemeteries will take place. Data was provided 13 years ago by Chet and Anita Harding, and the past dozen years by the Tioga County Veterans’ Service Agency, and this year by cooperating Tioga County funeral homes. Dedicated and honored name readers include The Owego Pennysaver Staff Writer JoAnn R. Walter, and the Tioga County Courier’s owner and Editor, Mary Beth Jones.
Service of Remembrance
The 36th Memorial Day Service of Remembrance will take place at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial with Jim Raftis as MC for his 57th time, first recorded in the newspaper on Memorial Day 1966. Gordon Ichikawa provides the sound system for the park. Remember to bring your chair.
A Special Tribute at 10:15 a.m. will include a remembrance of Fallen Heroes and returned combat overseas veterans. A native Owego mother received a Mother’s Day visit by two West Point Army Officers, regretfully saying her Army Captain’s son, Harold Faldemeyer, was one of the last to be killed in the Vietnam War near the besieged city of Anlock. WWII European Theatre Survivor Owego Chaplain Father Eddie Joe Waters, from Delphine Street on the Flats, celebrated Mass and Distributed Holy Communion on the English dock before those same troops fell on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
The Service of Remembrance begins with DAR Regent Karen Messersmith placing a wreath at the Civil War Memorial, remembering 500 from Tioga County. Owego Elementary School PTO Coordinator Kasey Chobot will have students place the flags they carried in the parade into a patriotic basket at the memorial as Vietnam Veteran Lew Sauerbrey reads the names of the Fallen Heroes inscribed on the six memorials.
There will be a reading of the General Order by Mayor General John Logan, establishing Memorial Day. The Invocation and Benediction will delivered by First Presbyterian Church Co-Pastors, Reverends Bruce and Carolyn Gillette. The National Anthem and later a patriotic medley will be performed by the Owego Free Academy Marching Band, directed by Lindsey Williams.
There will be a POW/MIA Remembrance, and special awards will be presented.
Town of Owego Historian Peter Gordon, author of a book on Evergreen Cemetery, will focus on the Civil War Section of the historic cemetery. He’ll also read a letter from a mother to her Civil War serving son.
The Tioga County Veterans’ Service Officer, Michael Middaugh, will update on services his agency provides to veterans. A Roll Call of Tioga County veterans who died since Memorial / Veterans Day will be read, thanks to input from funeral directors.
It is the 73rd Anniversary of the Korean War, and the 22nd Anniversary of 9/11.
There will be a “Remembrance” by Gold Star Mother, Mrs. Barbara Bilbrey, who is visiting from her new home in Hinesville, Georgia. While here she will decorate her son’s grave. Charles Bilbrey, who died in Iraq, is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
On Front Street, west side of the Court Street Bridge, a remembrance service for Owego’s first WWII casualty and lost Navy dead. Cast into the Susquehanna River, a memorial wreath will remember Seaman First Class Delmar Dale Sibley, entombed since Dec. 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard will render a rifle salute. Trumpeter Steve Palinosky will play taps.
VFW Post 1371 will honor two graves before the parade. At Hope Cemetery in Newark Valley, they’ll honor lifelong VFW and Ritual Team veteran 92-year-old LaVere “Si” Cortright. He was a POW in Moosburg, Germany. He was in the same POW Camp as three other Owego VFW veterans – Lt. Hugh Hogan, Staff Sergeant Ralph Meza, and the Air Force’s Al Catlin. With the Auxiliary, they’ll honor longtime member Elaine Kravec, sister of WWII Fallen Hero Glenn A. Warner, for whom the post is named.
Most appropriate on Memorial Day, wear a Buddy Poppy. The VFW Auxiliary project, led by Dorolyn Perry placed poppies for donations in Owego’s Parkview, the Early Owego Antique Center, Community Shop, Carol’s Coffee and Art Bar, at the Speedway on Route 17C, and in Apalachin at the Blue Dolphin and Sweeney’s Market. They’ll be available at the park for a donation.
Don’t forget the National Memorial Day Concert at 8 p.m. on Sunday on PBS, and the National Day of Remembrance at 3 p.m. Monday, wherever you are, for a moment of silence.
For more special ways to honor Fallen Heroes and veterans on Memorial Day, contact Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 Memorial Day Chairman Jim Raftis with a Facebook message or post.