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Kentuckians to observe Memorial Day


Kentuckians to observe Memorial Day

May 28, 2023 | 12:35 pm ET
By Jay Waagmeester
Kentuckians to observe Memorial Day
Veterans Memorial, Devou Park, Covington. (City of Covington photo)

Memorial Day marks the start of summer, a long weekend to kick back, relax and enjoy the lake or a steak. It also is something more —  a time to remember military veterans who gave their lives for our country.

Each service member, living and dead, means something to their communities, families, veterans and those still serving.

According to VA.gov, Memorial Day has been recognized in some form since 1866, just after the Civil War. Though relatively informal, Union veterans organized Decoration Day to decorate the graves of the recently buried soldiers. 

In 1868, Decoration Day was more organized and widespread than the original recognitions in 1866, when only 25 cities celebrated.

After World War I, Memorial Day was observed in honor of all those who died in American wars, not just the Civil War as it had mostly been recognized before. More than 150 years after the first Decoration Day, the practice continues and serves as a time to remember the more than 1 million lives lost in military service, as well as the millions of veterans who died after serving. 

American war casualties

People who served in the Civil War: 3.26 million

People who died in the Civil War: 500,000-plus

People who served in WWI: 4.73 million

People who died in WWI: 116,516

People who served in WWII: 16.11 million

People who died in WWII: 405,399

People who served the Korean War: 5.72 million

People who died in the Korean War: 54,246

People who served in the Vietnam War: 8.74 million 

People who died in the Vietnam War: 90,220

People who served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 8.74 million

People who died in Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 1,948

People who have served post 9/11: 7.2 million

People who have died serving post 9/11: 25,150-plus

An unknown but certainly significant number of Kentuckians gave the ultimate sacrifice defending the freedom that Americans celebrate. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kentucky’s 250,427 living veterans make up a little more than 1.4% of the more than 17 million living veterans in the U.S., about the same proportion as Kentucky’s population as a whole.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, officially to be recognized on the last Monday in May. Some say spring was chosen because flowers would be in bloom, and because it was not too close to other holidays. Cemeteries around the nation are decorated with American flags, flowers and other decorations during May, often on graves of those who served and those who did not. 

Kentucky events

Kentuckians to observe Memorial Day
Lebanon National Cemetery. (VA photo)

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is hosting commemoration ceremonies Monday at six national cemeteries. Dates and times may change due to inclement weather or other circumstances, says the VA, which encourages visitors to contact the national cemetery to confirm information prior to the event.

Camp Nelson, 11 a.m., 6980 Danville Road, Nicholasville, 859-885-5727.

Cave Hill, 11 a.m.,701 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, 502-893-3852.

Lebanon, 2 p.m., 20 Hwy 208, Lebanon, 270-692-3390.

Lexington, 11 a.m., 833 West Main Street, Lexington, 859-885-5727..

Mill Springs, 11 a.m., 9044 West Highway 80, Nanc. 859-885-5727. At 9 a.m there will be a remembrance ceremony at Zollicoffer Park to reflect on the Civil War battle with guest speaker Stuart W. Sanders, author of “The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky.”  

Zachary Taylor, 2 p.m., 4701 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, 502-893-3852.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs will host ceremonies Monday at the state’s five cemeteries for veterans. The events will include posting of the colors, singing of the national anthem, wreath laying, a guest speaker and taps.  (All times are local.)

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West, 11 a.m. Hopkinsville, 5817 Fort Campbell Blvd. 

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central, 11:30 a.m., Radcliff, 2501 N Dixie Blvd.

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North, 11 a.m.,  Williamstown, 205 Eibeck Lane.

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East 10 a.m., Grayson, 100 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East, 11 a.m., Hyden, 1280 KY 118.

Other events:

Louisville: Flag retirement ceremony, 2:30 p.m to 4 p.m., Morning Pointe Senior Assisted Living, 4711 South Hurstbourne Parkway, hosted by The Roll Call Foundation.

Northern Kentucky will commemorate Memorial Day with ceremonies and parades at communities across the region. Here is a comprehensive list of events in Northern Kentucky by LINK nky

Covington: 7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Salutes at six sites will include prayer, 21-gun salute, playing of taps and the placing of a wreath. At 2 p.m. the parade will leave Holmes High School by Eastern Avenue and proceed west on 19th Street, north on Holman Avenue and west on 13th Street to Linden Grove Cemetery, where a ceremony will begin at 3:15 p.m.

Florence, 10 a.m. Parade begins at Boone County High School and ends at the Florence Government Center, where a ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Boone County Veterans Memorial. 

Owensboro: Memorial Day Walk for the Fallen, remembrance ceremony at 8 a.m. at the Shelton Memorial, 99 West Veterans Boulevard, followed by a 5K run, 1 mile walk and ruck march.