Merrill to host two Memorial Day ceremonies
Merrill will be the place to be for Memorial Day, May 27, as the city will see two ceremonies honoring veterans past and present.
The morning program will be held at the Veterans Memorial Garden in St. Francis Xavier cemetery. The memorial garden hosted its first Memorial Day ceremony last year. A mass will be held at the cemetery at 9 a.m. with the Memorial Day program to follow at 11 a.m.
The morning program will feature music by the Merrill City Band and participation by local veterans groups, their auxiliaries and Boy Scouts. The program will be emceed by Mike Van Lieshout. The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club is expected to participate and antique military equipment will be on display including a restored Army jeep and a caisson. The Wisconsin National Guard may participate with a flyover or a Blackhawk helicopter, although confirmation won’t be made until the day of the ceremony.
The Veterans Memorial Garden has taken shape over the past couple of years through the dedication of organizers and the generosity of the community. The monument features paver tiles engraved with the names and service dates of local veterans from the Civil War to present; nearly 750 have already been purchased and placed. Electricity and lighting to the site are expected to be completed by Memorial Day.
The memorial garden has 135 burial spaced for veterans and their spouses. Dozens of columbarium spaces are available for cremated remains.
In the afternoon, the Memorial Day observance will shift focus to the Cenotaph monument at the corner of West Main and Prospect streets on Merrill’s west side. Prospect Street in front of the monument will be closed off at noon for a block party atmosphere. Sandwichews, drinks and treats will be served on the street. Music will be played and there will be live entertainment all day in front of Miller’s Home Furnishings. Nearby establishments will offer food and drink specials to veterans.
The program, which starts at 4 p.m. will include the unveiling of a memorial to honor our 49 Lincoln County veterans who died in the First World War. The 49 names will now be permanently on public display on a restored 7’ high, 800-pound bronze plaque. The plaque had hung on the wall for decades in the former American Legion building in Merrill. The plaque has been mounted for permanent display next to the Cenotaph monument, which was dedicated in 1923 as a memorial to World War I veterans.
An elaborate plaque dedication ceremony will be held from 4-4:30 p.m. at Cenotaph Park. Participants in the morning program will also be involved in the afternoon ceremony at the Cenotaph. The names of the 49 soldiers will be called out while the horse-drawn caisson arrives at the monument.
Following the solemn ceremony, the celebration will continue with food, refreshments and entertainment. This family event will be dedicated to all our neighbors who served in the Armed Forces. Those who belonged to any branch of the Armed Forces are asked to wear your service cap or uniform to the event. The block party will go till about 6 p.m.
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