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Local Veterans Have Special Memories of Memorial Day

by on May 28, 2012 6:00 AM

Memorial Day is a holiday set aside for honoring the men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the military.

Monday marks the country's 144th observance of the holiday since it was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

On May 30 of that year, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers from the Civil War at Arlington National Cemetery.

Boalsburg lays claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, with observances as early as 1864.

Many local folks will visit cemeteries and memorials Monday to honor those who have died in military service. And many will place an American flag on graves in numerous cemeteries.

Bill Noyes, of State College, was a fighter pilot in World War II. He was part of the 14th Combat Cargo Group while on active duty from 1943-45. 

In 1961, he was sent to Germany, where he culminated his military career as a Lt. Col. with 23 years of service.

Noyes, now 90 years old, said he lost a lot of friends in WWII. Two were high school buddies and he knew a few others from college.

"I take all of the military holidays very seriously. It's a great way to reminisce," he said.

Noyes doesn't think holidays such as the Fourth of July and Veterans Day are taken as seriously as they once were. He said that they might be a great time to celebrate, "as long as people understand what they mean."

Noyes will celebrate Memorial Day by attending a picnic held in his retirement community.

Shawn Robinson, 26, served more than five years in the United States Marine Corps. He spent two consecutive deployments overseas in Al Taqqadam, Iraq, and one deployment in Afghanistan.

Robinson, of Altoona, said Memorial Day serves as a remembrance for fellow soldiers he lost overseas.

"Their memory will not and should not ever be forgotten," he said.

Robinson said it's important to remember the nation's veterans and war-time eras.

"Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it," he said. "We serve as a sword and a shield (for those who cannot defend themselves) and because we volunteer to do it, remembrance is only fitting."

Danielle Matalonis is a student at Penn State and a summer intern for covering local news and events.
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