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Honoring Those Who Served

by Lynne Belluscio

Saturday morning, May 27, teams of volunteers will meet at the entrance of Macpelah Cemetery on North Street to place nearly 500 flags on the graves of our veterans.  We will be meeting a little early, at 8:30, because there are three funerals scheduled that day.  If you plan to join us, please park next door at the Jell-O factory and walk down the street.  Bring bug spray (the black flies are out), water, and sun screen.  It usually takes 2 or 3 hours to place all of the flags and one good thing about all the rain, the ground isn’t as hard as usual.

   The history of  “Decoration Day” which is now known as “Memorial Day” goes back to the Civil War.  On May 6, 1866 the nearby village of Waterloo decorated the graves of soldiers who had lost their lives in the Civil War. Waterloo was declared the official Birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966.

 The placing of flags on Revolutionary War veterans, as far as I can determine, began with the Daughters of the American Revolution which was founded on October 11, 1890 in Washington, D.C. Frustrated by their exclusion from men’s organizations that had been formed to perpetuate the memory of ancestors that had fought in the Revolution, the D.A.R was - -and is - - open to women who can trace their ancestry to a person who fought in the Revolution.  The paperwork and research is very precise and demanding. It has to be based entirely on primary source material such as military records, birth and death records and marriage records.  The LeRoy chapter of the D.A.R was founded on February 25, 1916. It was named the Te-Car-Na-Wun-Na Chapter, a Seneca word for “many rapids”  in reference to the rapids of the Oatka Creek in the village of LeRoy.   There were 36 charter members and Martha Keeney Harmon was named the first Regent. When the LeRoy Historical Society was formed in 1940 and acquired the historic LeRoy House, the D.A.R. designated the LeRoy House as it’s permanent meeting place. At that time, many antiques and archival material that had been collected by the D.A.R. was given to the Historical Society.  Through the efforts of the D.A.R. the historic marker was placed at the apex of the Triangle Tract on Summit Street. As membership numbers declined, the local Te-Car-Na-Wun-Na Chapter in 1963 decided to merge with the Batavia chapter