Carbondale Memorial Day Service a 150 year tradition

For the past 150 years, people in Carbondale, Illinois, have honored our nation’s service members and their sacrifice with a Memorial Day service.

That tradition continued Monday as hundreds of veterans and families joined in. Many at the service say Memorial Day is about much more than just a holiday.    

It’s been 50 years since Calvin Scott served in Vietnam, but he says he remembers it well.

"I served in the service from 1965 to 1967 and over in Vietnam the whole year of 1966. I turned 22 over there, a long time ago," said Scott, who is also an active VFW member in Carbondale.

Scott was at Carbondale’s Memorial Day service to help honor those who served with him but never made it back.

"We lost a lot of young men, 18 to 19, even 21-years old," Scott said.

Rep. Mike Bost says people in Carbondale have been paying tribute to the fallen since the first memorial services were held back in 1866.

"And the people that were gathered there and gathered all over this nation had hoped and prayed that they would never see another man, not another person, fall in battle," said Bost.

Bost says, whether it’s pausing at a gravestone or laying a wreath, there are many ways to honor veterans and never forget the cost of freedom.

Scott says Memorial Day is more than a holiday.

"We lost a lot of young men there. So, this really means something to me to allow me to come back and you sort of keep that going for those guys that didn’t come back," Scott said.

Scott says Carbondale’s service is an enduring tradition for those serving now who will never come back.

The first planned observance of a Memorial Day ceremony in Carbondale is credited as having taken place in the spring of 1866, when three civil war veterans spotted a widow and her two children laying flowers on an unmarked grave at a Carbondale cemetery. The community continued that tradition on other graves and then on to the Woodlawn Cemetery, where Monday’s ceremony was held.

In 1868, General John A Logan issued an order establishing Decoration Day, which later became Memorial Day.

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