Memorial Day purists carry on the May 30th tradition

REDDING, Calif. — Although Memorial Day was officially observed throughout the nation Monday, a Memorial Day ceremony attended by hundreds to honor those who died serving the U.S. military was held Friday at the Veterans Memorial Grove near the Civic Auditorium in Redding.

Sponsored by the Shasta County Veterans Affiliated Council, the observance marks the true Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day is always the 30th,” said Shasta County Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Bob Dunlap, a U.S. Air Force veteran.

“It’s the day,” agreed former Shasta County VSO Don Mangrum, a U.S. Army veteran. “Everything else is just a three-day holiday.”

Now a chaplain, Mangrum was the keynote speaker during Friday’s observance, which featured patriotic music, the laying of wreaths, rifle salute, a bagpiper, bugler and other Memorial Day fare.

Mangrum, who also paid special tribute to public safety officers who gave their lives in the line of duty, shared several poignant stories of some of those 46 Shasta County men killed during the Vietnam War. They were stories of remarkable courage, bravery and self-sacrifice.

“They should stand as an example to all of us,” Mangrum said.

Mangrum followed welcoming remarks by Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh and Redding City Councilwoman Franice Sullivan, who said Memorial Day, as well as veterans, have always held a special place in her heart, noting her father, brother and husband all served in the military.

“I’m proud to live in a city where we don’t forget,” she said.

It was in 1971 when President Richard Nixon, a U.S. Navy veteran, declared Memorial Day a federal public holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May.

But that move still angers some Memorial Day diehards who claim the traditional May 30 date, established in 1868 to honor fallen Civil War veterans and then known as Decoration Day, was being sacrificed so government employees and others could have a three-day weekend.

Not to be confused with Veterans Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving this nation in the armed forces while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

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