The Rock Island National Cemetery will hold a Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 29, at 10:45 a.m. Main parking will be at the Memorial Park parking lot off East Street across from Building 102; distinguished visitors and media will be directed where to park on cemetery grounds.

The keynote speaker will be Mike Matson, mayor of the City of Davenport, and retired sergeant major and U.S. Army Ranger. The Veterans Service Organization honor guard will be conducted by Moline American Legion 246. The Center for Active Seniors Inc.’s Golden Tones Choir will perform musical selections through the ceremony. The National Anthem will be performed by Rachel Hoffman, with an invocation by Rev. Scott Culley, Faith Walk World Outreach Center. The 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment, Milan, Illinois, will conduct the national salute. Additional speeches, a moment of silence, the sounding of taps, and a rifle volley, will also take place.

There will be no parking at the cemetery for this ceremony except for individuals in wheelchairs. Parking for all others will be behind Memorial Park in the large lot. Buses will transport people from the parking lot to the cemetery and will run 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors should arrive early to ensure enough time to park their vehicles and be transported to the cemetery. Memorial Park is located off of the main Island road, Rodman Avenue at the corner of East Street. For more information, call 309-782-2094.

The history of Memorial Day

Memorial Day represents a day of national awareness and reverence, honoring the military men and women who gave their lives in defense of the nation and its values. Memorial Day honors fallen service members while Veterans Day is an opportunity for Americans to publicly recognize living military veterans. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War Soldiers and a day to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, commander-in-chief, Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day by General Order No. 11. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The law took effect in 1971 at the federal level. In 2000, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration operates 155 national cemeteries and 34 soldiers’ lots and monument sites in 44 states and Puerto Rico. More than 5 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA cemeteries. Fulfilling President Lincoln’s call “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” VA also provides headstones, markers or medallions for Veterans buried in state, territorial and tribal Veterans’ cemeteries or interred in private cemeteries.