Compiled by Susan Mikula Campbell
The tradition of Memorial Day dates to 1868 when it was established as an event in May to clean and ornament the graves of fallen soldiers. It was first called Decoration Day.
This holiday weekend, many area groups are planning Memorial Day activities.
•On Monday, May 30, the Town of Niagara Lions and Lioness Clubs will host their annual Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Witmer Road Cemetery in the Town of Niagara.
The ceremony will include the placing of a memorial wreath next to the monument by the presidents of the Lions and Lioness clubs. The flag raising and lowering will be conducted by the Western New York Corps of Cadets. The color guard will be provided by the Conrad Kania Detachment of the Marine Corps League, which also will perform a live gun salute. Taps will be played to honor all who gave their life in service of our country.
Opening and closing prayers will be offered by Pastor Ron Maines of Forestview Church of God. The principal speaker will be Cmdr. Aquilla J. Causey, U.S. Navy. Other speakers will be Gene Colucci, president of the Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association; Joseph Rizzotto, veteran and commander of the Fredrick F. Cadille Post of the American Legion; and Angelo Onevelo, veteran and Lions Club chairman.
"Please join us in rightly honoring and remembering all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their life, in service to the United States of America," Onevelo said.
•The annual Memorial Day ceremony in Wheatfield will be held at the veterans memorial at the town highway garage, 6860 Ward- Road, at 11 a.m. Monday. Ron Krull, commander of American Legion Post 1451, will be the main speaker.
After the ceremony, chowder, hot dogs and hamburgers will be sold at the Legion Post at 6525 Ward Road. The chicken-beef chowder will be $14 a gallon or $1.50 a bowl.
•A parade will be held on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 28, followed by a ceremony at Hyde Park where local officials will speak.
Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I, Lewiston, is inviting constituents of the 138th Assembly District to attend an open house at his Niagara Falls district office immediately following the parade. Refreshments will be provided.
The open house will run from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the district office, 1700 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls. The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., of Niagara University will bless the office at 1:30 p.m. Ceretto's assembly district encompasses the City of Niagara Falls, conclude with a retreat ceremony honoring the nation's veterans.
•VA Western New York Healthcare System invites the public to participate in Memorial Day observances in Buffalo and Batavia. In Batavia, a wreath laying in partnership with city of Batavia United Veterans will be held at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the flagpole at 222 Richmond Ave.
In Buffalo, the ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Monday in Freedom Hall, 3495 Bailey Ave. Keynote speaker will be Georgian Davis, Gold Star mother.
Everyone is invited to participate in a moment of remembrance for one minute at 3 p.m. Monday. The time was chosen because it is the time when many Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.
•In North Tonawanda, Mayor Robert G. Ortt will be dedicating a park bench in honor and memory of Lance Cpl. Timothy G. Serwinowski, a U.S. Marine and North Tonawanda native, who was killed in action on June 21, 2010, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The dedication will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Veteran's Park on River Road.
•The 39th annual Wilson Historical Society Memorial Day Fair will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday on the museum grounds on Route 425 in the Town of Wilson. The American Legion will hold a special flag raising ceremony at noon on the museum grounds.
The event will feature a flea market with more than 250 vendors, free entertainment by the Bar Room Buzzards, a display of antique and collectible cars and food.
•Local children can kick-off their Memorial Day recess with a visit to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St. in North Tonawanda, between noon and 4 p.m. Friday, May 27. Special crafts and activities, such as making your own poppy and dog tags, will honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The program is included in regular admission ($5 adults; $4 seniors; $2.50 students ages 2 to 12).