Johnson City, TN

Memorial Day in the Tri-Cities

John M. Dabbs

The American Legion plans a ceremony for Memorial Day at the "Spirit of the American Doughboy" at Memorial Park in Johnson City.
The Spirit of the American Doughboy - ColumbusJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Johnson City remembers

A Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony, hosted by the Johnson City American Legion (King's Mountain Post 24), will begin at 10 am Monday, at the "Spirit of the American Doughboy" statue. The statue is located in the Memorial Park, at 105 E. Main Street, Johnson City (near the main post office and across from city hall).  

The ceremony will be conducted in the tradition of standing to sing the National Anthem.  During the program, the American Legion will recall the services of Veterans and their families over the last 300 years.  Speeches are to be offered by community leaders, including remarks from retired U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D.  

A wreath will be presented by the Legion Commander and Dr. Roe,  at the foot of the Doughboy statue. The statue was presented to the City in 1935. It bears bronze placards honoring those who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.

The American Legion asks the public to help them recognize the fallen who have given so much for our community, and our country.

Bluff City dedicates Veteran's Memorial

Today at noon, Bluff City will dedicate it own Veteran's Memorial. The memorial will be located at 337 Carter Street, Bluff City, TN. The public is invited to come out and support the veterans and celebrate the memorial dedicated in their honor.

Bluff City Alderman Jeff Broyles, can be contacted for more information. Broyles is a volunteer member of the Bluff City Rescue Squad, which has been fortunate to have many veterans and others who've served in its ranks since it's founding.

Memorial Day history

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans used to observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

The American Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the 1860s, many U.S. towns and cities began paying tribute to the fallen soldiers. They would decorate their graves with flowers and recite prayers.

Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

The official beginnings are unknown. Many communities around the country might have initiated the memorial gatherings independently. Records detail one of the earliest Memorial Day events organized by former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. This occured less than a month after the South surrendered in 1865. Regardless of the how things may have begun and where, the Federal government recognized Waterloo, New York as the originator of Memorial Day in 1966.

Waterloo first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866. The government chose it because the community hosted an annual, community-wide event. Businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. The community gave more credence and respect to the observance than most other events.

Decoration Day

General John A. Logan, a leader of Northern Civil War veterans, called for a national day of remembrance in late May.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”- General John A. Logan

"Decoration Day" as he called it, was designated on May 30th. It was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.

Northern states held similar events and revived it in the years that followed. Most northern states made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states chose to honor the dead on other days, until World War I.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost fighting the Civil War. After World War I, it evolved to commemorate all American veterans who died in war - to include:

  • Civil War
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Africa
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan

Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30th. That changed after 1968.

The U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. It established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The new law went into effect in 1971, and designated Memorial Day a federal holiday.


As the pandemic begins to wane, and our soldiers return home from foreign wars, the country seems to forget unless their family was personally effected. We see many concerts, picnics, and vacations beginning as Summer unofficially begins.

Remember the reason for the holiday. Remember not only your family and friends who gave all for this country. Remember all the soldiers who made the sacrifice, so our country could be what it is today.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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