B y Dan King

Two great Memorial Day traditions in Whitehall will be taking place in the next week and a half.

First, Whitehall’s youngest students will be getting patriotic next Thursday as the elementary school hosts its 42nd annual Memorial Day Ceremony outside the elementary school at 10 a.m.

Ordinarily the event is held outside, but the weather last year forced it inside the high school gymnasium. Either way the annual event is a great symbol of patriotism, honor and liberty.

Members of American Legion Post 83 will be on hand, explaining the importance of civic pride and patriotism, and the symbolic importance of the POW/MIA flag. Additionally, Whitehall Mayor Ken Bartholomew is expected to give a speech on the importance of Memorial Day. He said it will be his first speech as a public official.

While a majority of the ceremony takes a serious tone, dealing with the ultimate sacrifice made by those who serve, there is eventually a lighter tone.

Students will put on some choreographed dances and sing patriotic themes to liven the atmosphere.

A few days later, on Monday, May 25 at 10 a.m., the American Legion will host its annual Memorial Day Parade, which has grown into a popular event that packs people onto Main Street and in Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park.

Not a lot will be changed from previous years’ parades, but the closing ceremony always provides its own insight into what it means to serve.

“Things are pretty much the same as last year,” said Jim Lafayette, the parade chairman.

Lafayette said the parade will start in front of the American Legion Post on Main Street, as it always has. Once the parade is over, the participants will pour into the Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park for what is always a very somber and serious closing ceremony.

The location is fitting, as Whitehall’s fallen heroes are honored right next to the pristine veterans wall in the park, which features the names of all Whitehall soldiers lost from World War I through the present wars.

The parade’s Grand Marshal this year will be Charles F. Austin.

Afterward, a light lunch will follow across the street at American Legion Post 83.

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