By Josh Whitener
American Legion Post 235 in Matthews is gearing up to host its annual As Memorial Day celebration honoring U.S. service members.
The annual Memorial Day celebration takes place May 27, a Monday, at 11 a.m. at Stumptown Park, 120 S. Trade St., in downtown Matthews. The free event will feature guest speakers and presentations.
“We’re trying to make it a big event this year,” Post Commander Richard Bowers said. “We’re trying to make it a nice event since over the years we’ve been (seeing) more and more people (attend).”
This year’s celebration will feature several guest speakers, including veterans from several wars. The David W. Butler High School Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or JROTC, will give a presentation and host their annual picnic following the event. Area Boy Scout Troops also have been invited to come and participate in the event.
The event also will feature some musical presentations, including a vocal soloist’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and several patriotic songs, courtesy of singing group The Frontier Girls. The Marine Corps League Charlotte Detachment 750 in Mint Hill is scheduled to do a 21-gun salute and play Taps, Bowers said.
The post also will host a reading of the 35 names on the Stumptown Park Memorial Wall and a section of the program will be dedicated to remembering the prisoners of war and service members missing-in-action.
“It’s very moving,” Bowers said. “We’ve done it a couple times in the past couple of years and we always get great feedback on it.”
Bowers said the Memorial Day celebration is just one of many projects the American Legion Post 235 focuses on each year. He said the post is involved with children and youth within the community and has sponsored a high school oratorical contest, which this year sent an Ardrey Kell High School student to state and national competitions.
Since Bowers joined the post several years ago, the nonprofit organization has grown from about 50 members to more than 170, he said. Guests are welcome.
Bowers hopes the Memorial Day celebration will not only draw attention to the post and encourage community members to get involved, but be a fitting tribute to those who have given their lives for their country.
“The Memorial Day (celebration) is a big event for us, honoring veterans and people who have paid the ultimate price, protecting our freedoms and so forth,” Bowers said. “It’s elaborate and very moving.”