Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

What is Memorial Day? Peekskill & Cortlandt set to honor and remember

A brief history of Memorial Day; Peekskill & Cortlandt to hold Memorial Day Services; Share your memories with us

Barbecues, hot dogs and hamburgers, potato and macaroni salad, an extra day off from work, a three day weekend, kayaking, boating, horseshoes, endless appliances and car sales and commercials, and the unofficial start to Summer are the things a vast majority Country thinks of when they think of Memorial Day. But that is not what Memorial Day is nor even remotely about.

Memorial Day is an American holiday held every year on the last Monday of May. It is a time when the Country remembers and honors fallen service members of the United States Armed Forces. While many know Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, many don’t know it’s exact history, importance, or how to properly pay tribute. 


When and why did Memorial Day begin?

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed over 620,000 Americans, more lives than any conflict in U.S. history resulting in the establishment of the Country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. This became known as Decoration Day.

The first national observance of Decoration Day occurred on May 30, 1868 honoring the Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War. By 1890, as the holiday spread among the states, every State adopted it and began observing it. As the 19th century began, World War I and World War II ravaged the American and World landscape. Combined, over 523,000 Americans perished in the World Wars. 

For decades, Decoration Day continued to be observed on May 30. It was not until 1971, when Congress standardized the holiday as “Memorial Day” and changed its observance to the last Monday in May. 

Over the decades, and countless wars, Memorial Day has evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including The Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Persian Gulf War Operation Desert Storm and The Global War on Terror including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

On this Memorial Day, it is important to remember we are honoring our fallen. For many, this day is not a happy occasion but a solemn one.


Peekskill and Cortlandt Memorial Day Services


The Town of Cortlandt Memorial Ceremony – Friday, May 24 at 1:00 pm

The Veterans Council’s Memorial Day ceremony will be held at the Muriel H. Morabito Community Center on Westbrook Drive at 1:00 pm on Friday, May 24. The service will honor those who have served our country. Light refreshments will be served after the service providing an opportunity for the community to come together in remembrance.

In addition, the Town of Cortlandt 2024 Military Tribute Banners will be displayed on Route 9A near the VA Hospital in Montrose, Oregon Road from Locust Avenue to the Hollow Brook Golf Course entrance in the northern part of Cortlandt, and on Broadway in Verplanck. The banners are a beautiful tribute to honor and say “Thank You” to all of our men and women who have defended our Country and fought for our freedoms in America. The banner will run from Memorial Day through Veterans Day

Philip G. Miller playing Taps at the Rededication of the WWII Annsville Monument on May 29 2016.
Photo Credit: Rotary Club of Cortlandt Manor Facebook Page


​​City of Peekskill Memorial Day Service – Monday, May 27 at 10:00 am

The Captain Oliver C, Chase American Legion Post 274 of Peekskill will hold a Memorial Day Ceremony on Memorial Day, Monday May 27, at Monument Park. Beginning at 10:00 am, the Memorial Day Service will honor those who have served our country. The American Legion will read the names of all those Killed In Action. The Peekskill Police Department along with the  Peekskill American Legion will present the Color Guard. Wreaths will be placed beside the Civil War Monument, World War I Monument, World War II Monument, Korean War Monument, Vietnam War Monument, and a wreath for the War on Terror in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Monument Park, Peekskill, NY, located at the intersection of North Division Street and Highland Avenue.
Photo Credit: Captain Oliver C. Chase, Jr. American Legion Post 274 Facebook Page

There will also be musical performances presented by Joe Brady, the Peekskill High School Band and Phil Miller. The American Legion Post 112 of Hawthorne will hold a 21 gun salute. American Legion Post 274 historian Frank Goderre and local dignitaries will make remarks. Post 274’s Auxiliary President, Patricia Cortelli, will read the famous World War I poem In Flanders Fields by John Mcrae. The poem references the Poppies flower which was a common sight, especially on the Western Front and is an enduring symbol of remembrance of the First World War. After the Memorial Day Service, the American Legion invites everyone to the American Legion Post located at 936 McKinley Street for refreshment and an opportunity to sit down and talk with Veterans from near and far. For further information, call John Donohue at (914) 739-1560 or (917) 834-8588

American Legion places Flags at local cemeteries

Recently, on May 18th and 19th, the Peekskill American Legion and volunteers placed hundreds of American Flags on the graves of fallen heroes at gravesites for service members buried at the Assumption, Hillside, Van Cortlandtville, and the First Hebrew Cemeteries. 

The local American Legion places flags on the Graves of Veterans before Memorial Day.
Photo Credit: Hillside Cemetery Facebook Page

Peekskill Honors with Military Tribute Banners

In addition to the Memorial Day service, please take a moment to check out the record number of Military Banners hanging throughout the City of Peekskill as part of the Military Banner Tribute Program.  This year over 73 banners have been placed and can be found hanging on Welcher Avenue, Highland Avenue, Overlook Avenue as well as Washington Street, Division Street and Brown Street. The American Flag placements and the Military Banners were highlighted by Jim Roberts in This Week in Peekskill as the 9th and 10th story.  

Share your Memories 

In honor of Memorial Day, the Peekskill Herald would like you to share with us what Memorial Day Means to you. Share your Photos and Memories and we will publish them in the Peekskill Herald for Memorial Day. Send your memories and your photographs to [email protected] and include “Memorial Day” in the subject line.  


Wherever you go, whatever you do this weekend, please take a moment to honor and remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Remember why we have a holiday and remember why we call it Memorial Day.

About the Contributor
Dave Mueller
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]