By Mary Torres, Special to MyRGV.com
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day that marks the unofficial beginning of summer, but most importantly, it is a day to remember and honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Originating after the Civil War, Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was observed on May 30. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and also declared it a Federal holiday. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, by wearing a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war, and by holding family gatherings.
There are some formal rituals still on the books: The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff. And since 2000, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is when most Americans are enjoying time off of work for the national holiday.
This year, unlike in 2020 due to COVID-19 when most Veterans Day ceremonies and gatherings were canceled, there are some observances planned. The Harlingen Veteran’s Memorial Committee in conjunction with the Veterans Board and The City of Harlingen will host a Memorial Day Program on Monday, May 31, as a tribute to, and to honor the memory of many brave heroes who gave their lives for this country.
A candlelight vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial at Pendleton Park, 1425 Morgan Blvd. Mayor Chris Boswell will be a speaker and Sgt. Sal Carmona of the Harlingen Police Department will be the master of ceremonies. Several local veterans groups and youths will be participating in the program. There will be 150 chairs available for attendees and COVID-19 protocols, as applicable, will be followed. For more information visit www.harlingenverterans.com.
In keeping with the theme of Memorial Day and military service, Thomas MacEntee of GenealogyBargains.com is offering a free download, “10 Tips and Tricks for Military Records and Genealogy Cheat Sheet.” Military records can provide valuable insights into the lives of your ancestors. These records can also provide vital record information and even data on those who didn’t serve but were related to your ancestor.
Visit https://genealogybargains.com and select ‘Free Genealogy from the menu bar at the top and click on “Free Genealogy Cheat Sheets” from the drop-down menu where you’ll find the free cheat sheet for military records and much more. Military records are also available on Fold3.com and MyHeritage.com and other fee-based sites and some of them are offering free access to those records for Memorial Day.
The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research at 5300 Caroline St., Houston, is now open! The Clayton, part of the Houston Library System is one of the premiere genealogy libraries in the country. It is open at limited capacity to walk-in customers who are researching family history only. The hours of operation are: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The library also continues to offer remote assistance by telephone and email. Contact the library for more information at (832) 393-2600.
Don’t forget that the Downtown Market Days has returned and the next event is scheduled for Saturday, June 5!
The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society will meet on Sunday, June 27 at 1:30 p.m. at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum for a program by Hector Gutierrez on the Balli Family. Visit the society’s Facebook page for more information.
The City of Harlingen is excited to announce the return of Freedom Fest on Saturday, July 3rd with live music, delicious food, a beer garden, and the famous fireworks show! More details coming soon!