Focus on Fostoria - May_18_03

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Fostoria Focus - May 18, 2003

by Leonard Skonecki

How West Millgrove Observes Memorial Day

When Memorial Day was established in 1868, no specific form of observance was prescribed save that flowers be placed on the graves of Civil War veterans. Consequently, each American community celebrates Memorial Day in its own way.

Our neighbors in West Millgrove observe Memorial Day in keeping with the Civil War origin of the holiday.

The service is organized by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Tent 139 and is held at 1 pm at West Millgrove's Congregational Church (the white wood church in town on the west side of State Route 199).

The DUV has been in charge of the ceremonies for four years. Pat Day is long-time DUV member.

"Pauline Cline organized the services for many years," Pat said. "When she passed away, Ken Harris took it over. We helped Ken for two years before he passed away. Then we took it over."

The DUV was established on Memorial Day, 1885, to perpetuate the deeds, memory, and loyalty of ancestors whose service preserved the Union in the Civil War.

Eligibility is through lineal descent. Any woman who is a daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, etc. of an honorably discharged Union soldier, sailor, marine or nurse may join. Girls are eligible at 8 and are junior members until 1, Junior members are called DUV's pronounced "doves."

The Memorial Day service begins at 1 pm and while the DUV adds something different each year, the program includes patriotic songs, prayers, the Gettysburg Address, the poem "In Flanders Field," a speaker and the reading of the names of the nearly 150 veterans buried in the Perry Center, Mennonite and Riverview Cemeteries.

DUV members participate wearing their Civil War era dresses. Many of the women make their own.

Following the service, people pick up two flowers upon leaving the church. A procession then walks north to Cygnet Road and west to the bridge over the Portage River.

The procession is led by flag bearer and West Millgrove native Duane Bradner. Duane now lives near Toledo, but is a loyal participant.

"He volunteers every year," Pat said. "He says, 'Don't even call me. Just know I'm going to be there. This is my home town. This is where I want to be every Memorial Day."

At the bridge, everyone throws one flower in the river to commemorate Navy sailors lost at sea. Then the procession continues to Riverview Cemetery.

Duane reads Gen. Logan's Orders. The remaining flowers are placed on the raised grassy area occupied by the flagpole.

Wreaths are placed by the DUV. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited. Duane plays "Taps" to conclude the service.

For many years, the singing was accompanied by Mildred Few on the piano. Mildred played for the last time in 2001 at the age of 100. She died recently at 101.

It was Mildred's idea to help Ken Harris with the service. Mildred was a DUV member for 49 years. This year Diane Gray will play the piano.

Another regular is David Pueschel who belongs to a Civil War re-enactment group in Findlay. He generally participates wearing his Confederate uniform and gives one of the readings.

Preceding the service at noon, there's a potluck dinner at the church. Everybody is welcome.

The DUV has several activities each year. They attend several re-enactments. Tent 139 assists the Sons of Union Veterans at the Hayes Encampment in Fremont each October. They take the money at the gates.

They have an annual potluck dinner and auction, and a candy sale. This year they're selling a cookbook and are considering raffling a handmade afghan.

"Most of the money we raise goes for presents for veterans at Christmas," Pat said.

Veterans of the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky and nursing homes in Bowling Green, Findlay and Fostoria receive gifts.

"We want them to know we're thinking of them," Pat said.

On Saturday, May 24, at 1 pm Tent 139 will participate in the "Restore the Glory" ceremony to dedicate a new Civil War monument at the Perrysburg Cemetery on Pickle Road. Pat and Perrysburg Mayor Marge Brown will speak.

Tent 139 meets at Kaubisch Memorial Public Library and was founded in 1938 with 46 women. The current membership is 27. Tent 139 is one of 17 tents in Ohio comprising roughly 300 members.

It's no trouble getting Memorial Day organized.

"We love it," Pat said. "When we're ready to start doing the program, everyone says, 'I'll do this. I'll do that.' We all like to take part.

(For more information about the West Millgrove Memorial Day service or the DUV, call 419-288-2370