BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford Saco Memorial Day Ceremony returns with a live, public ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday May 31, at Mechanics Park, at the intersection of Main and Water streets in Biddeford.

Heart of Biddeford organized the ceremony in coordination with local AMVETS. Heart of Biddeford’s director, Delilah Poupore said she is hopeful that there will be a return to parades again soon.

Memorial Day commemorations in 2020 were online only. The 2021 event is an in-person commemoration, but those who wish may view it live on Heart of Biddeford’s Facebook page.

“We are pleased to be able to gather in person to honor veterans and especially those who served and died in the U.S. military,” she said of the in-person service.

Keynote speaker for the Biddeford Saco Memorial Day Ceremony is AMVETS State Commander Dennis Durant of Monmouth. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army for 10 years, and served in Operation Desert Storm. He is a lifetime member of the AMVETS, VFW and the American Legion.

Reigning Mrs. Biddeford, Jessica Johnson will be playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” along with her son Julian Truitt. From Biddeford Middle School, Jackson Wood will be playing “Taps,” and Gabriella Smith will play “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

Members of AMVETS, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and Saco Mayor William Doyle will participate in the ceremony. A pastor from New Life Church will provide the invocation.

The first national celebration of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

According to online accounts, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

Originally marking those who perished in the U.S. Civil War, which ended in 1865, Memorial Day now commemorates the death of those who perished in all wars.

The ceremony has been planned for Mechanics Park in order to have the most room for guests to spread out, said Poupore. The event will follow Maine public health guidance, asking the public to maintain physical distance and to wear masks where that is not possible.

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