Metro-east celebrates Memorial Day

News-DemocratMay 24, 2013 

Valhalla Gardens of Memory in Belleville is reviving a decades-old tradition after a two-year hiatus.

The cemetery will place 1,888 American flags on veterans' graves so the public can pay tribute over Memorial Day weekend.

The last year for The Avenue of Flags was 2010. After that display, the cemetery decided to cut back to every five years because of the tremendous amount of work.

That decision was reversed this year.

"After great thought and consideration, we realized that it was too important to be done every five years," said Ed Allan, general manager of Valhalla Gaerdener Holten Funeral Home. "We want to recognize the service of veterans to our country every year."

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will help staff place the flags, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. Other volunteers are welcome.

"We would hope it could be done in six to eight hours, weather permitting," Allan said.

The cemetery at 3412 Frank Scott Parkway is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday through Monday.

Memorial Day services and parades also are going on in other metro-east communities.

This is the first year the Troy Lions Club is offering to place white crosses outside local businesses for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Members have sold 176 of the 300 crosses they built. The cost is $10 ($20 if personalized).

"We'll put them out, pick them up, store them, maintain them and if they get stolen or broken, we'll replace them," said Tim Greenfield, club president.

Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops will help members distribute crosses, beginning at 6 a.m. Monday. Other volunteers are welcome.

Greenfield hopes to see the program grow each year.

"Eventually, we want (crosses) to be all over town," he said.

A coalition of Granite City veterans groups will host the annual Memorial Day service at Granite City Area War Memorial Park on Monday, but this year's program will be different.

"It's going to be a bell-ringing ceremony," said organizer Ron Chiodini, past commander of American Legion Post 113. "We're going to name all the people on the memorial wall and ring a bell."

Here is a list of other Memorial Day weekend activities:


Alton Memorial Day Parade -- The parade is billed as "the oldest consecutive-running parade in the nation." It begins at 10 a.m. Monday at Alton Middle School. From College Avenue, it will go south on Washington, east on Edwards, north on Main, west on College and north on Washington to Upper Alton Cemetery.

Memorial Day Sunset Ceremony -- The eighth-annual ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Alton National Cemetery, 600 Pearl St.


Belleville Memorial Day Parade -- The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Monday at Cathedral Grade School and go north on South Second, East on West Main to the Belleville Public Square, east on East Main and south on Mascoutah, ending at Walnut Hills Cemetery. It's sponsored by Belleville Memorial Day Association; this year's host is Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1739. A ceremony follows about 11 a.m. with speaker U.S. Air Force Col. Paul R. McLaughlin from Scott Air Force Base. In case of rain, it will be moved to Swansea Improvement Association Hall, 301 Service St. in Swansea.

Mount Carmel Memorial Day Rose Mass -- The Catholic Diocese of Belleville Cemetery Association will celebrate its annual rose Mass at 9 a.m. Monday at Mount Carmel Cemetery, 10101 W. Main St. in Belleville. Roses for loved ones will be placed on the outdoor altar. For more information, call 618-397-0802.

Scott Air Force Base Memorial Day Service -- Scott Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4183 host a service at 9 a.m. Monday at the post, 1516 Old State Route 158 in Belleville. The speaker is U.S. Air Force Col. Elizabeth Harrel.


Caseyville Memorial Day services -- Veterans of Foreign Wars Caseyville Memorial Post 1113 host a brief service at 10 a.m. Monday at the post flag pole and a graveside service at 11 a.m. Monday at Caseyville Cemetery. Refreshments will be served at the post afterward.


Glenwood Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony -- Friends of Glenwood Cemetery will conduct a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday with a flag presentation, music, speakers, a rifle salute and "Taps." A new donor endowment plague will be dedicated at the gate. The cemetery is at South Center and Cemetery streets.


Holy Cross Cemetery Memorial Day Mass -- The Catholic Diocese of Belleville Cemetery Association will celebrate Mass at 11 a.m. Monday at Holy Cross Cemetery, 9409 Holy Cross Road in Fairview Heights.

Lake View Memorial Gardens flag display -- Lake View Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens will display about 5,000 flags on veteran graves starting Saturday morning and running through Monday. Hours for visitors are 8 a.m. to dark each day. The cemetery is at 5000 N. Illinois St. For more information, call 618-233-7200.


Granite City Memorial Day Service -- The service begins at 1 p.m. Monday at Granite City Area War Memorial Park at Madison Avenue and Niedringhaus, across from Gateway Regional Medical Center. Veterans will read names on the park's memorial wall and ring a bell for each. Sponsored by American Legion Posts 113 and 307 and their auxiliaries; Disabled American Veterans Chapter 53 and its auxiliary; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1400 and its auxiliary; and AmVets Posts 51 and 204 and their auxiliaries.


St. Augustine Cemetery Memorial Day Service -- St. Augustine Catholic Church host a service at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Augustine's Cemetery with guest speakers, music, a fly-over, recognition of local veterans and dignitaries. In case of rain, it will be moved inside Hecker Community Center.


Highland-area memorial services -- Lee Iten American Legion Post 439 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5694 host services at 9 a.m. Sunday at Evangelical United Church of Christ in Highland; 10 a.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church in Alhambra; 2 p.m. Sunday at Robinson Cemetery in Pocahontas; 4 p.m. Sunday at Dugger Cemetery in St. Jacob; 9:15 a.m. Monday at Catholic Cemetery in Highland; 9:45 a.m. Monday at Highland City Cemetery; and 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Gertrude Cemetery in Grantfork.

Highland Memorial Day Parade -- The parade begins at 1 p.m. Monday in the parking lot at Olive and Main, near St. Paul Catholic Church. It will go east on Main, south on Lemon, east on 12th and south on Poplar, ending at Veterans of Foreign War Post 5694. A program will follow with a wreath placed at a simulated cemetery. Lunch available inside.


New Baden Memorial Day Service -- American Legion Poelker Post 321 and its auxiliary and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3642 host a service at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the New Baden City Park gazebo. It will be followed by lunch at the American Legion hall.


O'Fallon Memorial Day Service -- The city of O'Fallon hosts its annual service at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the O'Fallon Veterans' Memorial, 737 E. Wesley Drive (patriotic music begins at 11:20). The guest speaker is Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander. Other participants include O'Fallon Township High School Air Force Junior ROTC, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 805, First Baptist Church Adult Choir, USAF Honor Guard Rifle Team and Miss O'Fallon Kylie Evgenides. Names of 24 newly inscribed veterans will be read. Wear medals and decorations. Bring lawn chairs.


Prairie du Pont Memorial Day Service -- American Legion Post 485 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6368 host a service at 11 a.m. Monday at the Memorial Plot, 200 S. Third St. in Prairie du Pont.


Smithton Memorial Day Service -- American Legion G.E.M. Post 937 hosts a service at noon Monday at the Veterans Memorial in Smithton Cemetery, along Illinois 159 south of town. Free food will be served afterward at the American Legion hall, 102 N. Main St.


Swansea Memorial Day Ceremony -- The Swansea Park Board will conduct a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday in Pavilion No. 2 at Melvin Price Park on Caseyville Avenue. U.S. Rep. William Enyart will be the keynote speaker. The Metro East Choral will sing the National Anthem and other patriotic songs.


Troy Lions Club crosses -- People still can buy white crosses to be placed in front of local businesses on Memorial Day ($10), but they can't be personalized until Veterans Day ($20). Flyers are available at Tri Township Park, Troy Times-Tribune, Troy City Hall and Maryville Troy St. Jacob Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers are welcome to help distribute flags, beginning at 6 a.m. Monday at the park maintenance shed.

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