By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
For the first time in about 30 years, there will not be a Memorial Day ceremony this year at the Yukon Cemetery.
Since the early 1990s, Yukon residents have observed Memorial Day during a program inside the cemetery, 660 S Garth Brooks Blvd. Members of the Yukon Historical Society and American Legion Post 160 plan and present the annual program.
This year’s Memorial Day ceremony has been canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns and related “spacing rules”, according to Yukon American Legion Post Commander Eddie “Mac” McFadden.
Not having enough volunteer manpower made it impossible to place U.S. flags on all veterans’ graves, he noted.
McFadden this week provided lists of names of 1,364 veterans buried in the Yukon Cemetery and 207 veterans buried in the Frisco Cemetery. These names are featured in an ad inside today’s edition of The Yukon Progress.
The Yukon Veterans Memorial, inside the front entrance, features large monument stones inscribed with the names of all known U.S. military veterans – from all armed services – buried in the Yukon Cemetery.
Since May 1996, volunteers have taken turns reading aloud the veterans’ names during Yukon’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial flagpole. The ceremony has traditionally ended with a performance of “Taps.”
VETERANS MEMORIAL DEDICATED IN ‘95
The Yukon Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day in November 1995. There were 525 veterans’ names on the memorial’s original five monument stones; four stones have since been added.
Many Yukon-area residents visit the Yukon Cemetery and Frisco Cemetery on and around Memorial Day, particularly to honor those who served their country.
Members of the Yukon Historical Society and Yukon’s former Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter started the Yukon Memorial Day program as part of the city’s 1990 centennial celebration.
Members of the former Yukon Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter had read all cemetery headstones to compile a list of names.
Evelyn and George Basore, then members of the Yukon Cemetery board, organized the Memorial Day ceremony around a flagpole in the center of the cemetery for a few years before the Veterans Memorial was erected.
Memorial Day is observed annually on the last Monday in May to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the observance originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.