MIDDLEPORT — Veterans groups are a familiar sight during the summer months as the groups focus their efforts into the days dedicated to American armed forces.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring those who have died in military service of the country. It is distinct from Veterans Day, which celebrates all who have served. Feeney-Bennett American Legion Post 128 in Middleport told the Sentinel, “The spirit of the day has remained through its history; it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.”
A variety of memorial ceremonies can be dated to the end of the Civil War, though it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971. The earliest examples include Southern women placing flowers on Union soldiers’ graves, and the tradition of decorating veterans cemetery plots has continued.
Post 128 held observances in local cemeteries continually on Monday, with time spent in the Middleport Levy, Middleport Riverview Cemetery, Bradford Cemetery, Middleport Hill Cemetery, Addison Cemetery, Cheshire Gravel Hill Cemetery, Middleport Gravel Hill Cemetery, Stewart/Bennett Park Middleport, Howell Hill Cemetery and Burlingham Cemetery.
This annual circuit was prepared earlier in the week as members of the post traveled to each location and set small flags upon veterans’ graves.
Extra time was spent during the Monday observances at Stewart/Bennett Park in Middleport. The park, Post 128’s Memorial Park, was named for Medal of Honor recipients Jimmy G. Stewart and Edward Bennett. The Legion held a rededication of the sign post.
Stewart, a staff sergeant in the Army, was killed 50 years ago in Vietnam at the age of 23, and is buried in Middleport Riverview Cemetery. Bennett was drafted and fought in World War II earning his way to major in the Army before retiring. He passed away in 1983 and is buried in California. Stewart’s sister, Josephine Donohue, was present.