American Legion Post 229 has been providing a traditional Memorial Day service in the Hope area for at least 65 years. It has been modified somewhat over that time. Originally, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30. In 1968, the date was established as the Monday closest to the 30th, to provide a three-day weekend.

Members of the Hope Post would gather at the Post early on that morning and load the rifles and gear. They journeyed about the area performing a service at burial sites of veterans. The Indianapolis 500 used to be run on Memorial Day, and as a young boy tagging along with my dad and his veteran buddies, I remember the guys stopping at each site of a service, perform their ceremony, and hop back into their cars with the AM radio set to an Indy station to listen to the race until the next stop. Each service consisted of a word from the Commander, prayer by the Chaplain, placing of a bouquet of flowers at a designated grave or the flagpole, the firing of a 21 gun salute, and playing of taps. One of the stops was at the bridge over Hawcreek on west Jackson Street, to commemorate those lost at sea.

A tradition was also established in 1953 of stenciling the name of deceased veterans from the Hope/Hartsville/Clifford area onto a white wooden cross. Mrs. Claude (Lucietta) Holder, Legion Auxiliary President, suggested the idea to Post Commander George William (Bill) Reed. That first year, Reed and his wife Velma, made and stenciled 162 white crosses to erect in the town square.

As the tradition continued, about a week before Memorial Day, the crosses were arranged in a military display, much like at a national cemetery. A small American flag was inserted into a hole on top of each cross. This display was set up in the Hope Town Square, but later was moved to the Legion lot in the Moravian Cemetery.

As the number of crosses increased over the years, it was becoming apparent that another way of remembering our departed veterans needed to be considered. Storage and maintenance of 550 crosses was beginning to be a challenge. Time to set up the display each year easily could consume a full day with several Post members participating.

A group of Post 229 members, from the older members to some of the younger ones, began tossing out various suggestions as to ways to remember our deceased vets. After a time, it was decided to erect black granite slabs, engrave the names from existing crosses, and continue to add names as veterans passed on.

The Post presented the idea to the area Communities and sought support, both financially and by donations of materials and labor. Many families joined in the effort by making contributions in memory of various loved ones. The current memorial was dedicated November 12, 2000. It contained 559 names. What is most remarkable, with no high-priced consultants or architects, but resourcefulness of area businesses and residents, this memorial was made possible at a cost of about $22,000.00.

White crosses continue to be erected at the Memorial prior to Memorial Day services, but now only 79 without names are placed in formation, as one looks toward the memorial.

May 25, when we celebrate this Memorial Day, the total has reached 796 names. Since last engravings, eight (8) new names will be added as soon as possible this year.

Services begin at 8:00 a.m. with Post members, Boy Scouts and families meeting at the Post to load gear. Our group now consists of sons and grandsons of some of those first Legion members.

The first service is at Sharon Cemetery south of Hope at 8:30. This is the final resting place of Jonathan Moore and his wife. Jonathan’s military legacy is that he served in the Revolutionary War as a Body Guard for General George Washington.

The May 29, 2017, full schedule is as follows:

8:30  Sharon Cemetery*

8:50  Newbern Cemetery#

9:15  Hartsville Square@

9:40  Hawcreek Church Cemetery

10:00  Simmons Cemetery

10:15  Old St Louis Cemetery

10:30  Hawcreek Bridge, Jackson Street^

11:00  Veterans Memorial, Moravian Cemetery

 

 

*Jonathan Moore grave

#Several Civil & Spanish American graves

Pvt Bartin Mitchel plaque

^Those lost at sea

 

Please join us at any or all of these in remembrance of those who served that we may remain free.