The annual tradition was first organized by Mary Bostwick Shellman on May 30, 1868.
In past Eagle Archives columns we have shared the stories of some of the 18 fallen heroes from the Vietnam War whose faces are etched in the black granite memorial in the Carroll County Vietnam Memorial Park on Willis Street.
The stories of Frederick John Magsamen, Christopher Jesse Miller Jr., Stanley Groomes, Joseph William Blickenstaff, Herbert Eugene Mulkey Jr., James Norman Byers and Sherman E. Flanagan Jr., have been told.
The first name on the memorial on is that of Ronald Michael Kenny, a 1965 graduate of Robert Moton High School.
He was born on March 14, 1947, and lived in the Mount Airy area with his parents, Charles and Madeline Kenny.
He died at age 18.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun's Carroll County section from May 28, 1989, "Kenny was the first Carroll countian to die in Vietnam… (He died) a mere eight months after his graduation from high school."
He was deployed with C Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Private First Class Kenny had entered the Army following graduation. In November 1965, he was stationed in central-coastal Vietnam, in an area known for heavy combat and a high rate of American casualties.
He was killed in action in the "Iron Triangle" region of Binh Dinh Province in Vietnam Feb. 19, 1966. This was soon after the Battle of Bong Son – Operation Irving, Jan. 28 to Feb. 12, 1966.
Bong Son was essentially the second major battle of the war, not that long after the 5th Cavalry had been engaged in the Battle of Ia Drang, Nov. 14-18, 1965, also in Binh Dinh.
This was still so early in the war that death notifications were unorganized and done by telegram.
"The telegram that came … said only that their son had died of a massive trauma to his right leg," wrote the Sun.
A military funeral was held at Warren Methodist Church, in Parrsville, near Ridgeville. The Waltz Funeral Home in Winfield was in charge of the arrangements.
He was buried in Baltimore National Cemetery.
His name may also be found on panel 05E, line 051 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
More information on Carroll County and the Vietnam War may be found in "Tours of Duty" by Gary D. Jestes and Jay A. Graybeal; on sale at the Historical Society of Carroll County.
After attending Memorial Day ceremonies at the Westminster Cemetery, Kevin Dayhoff may be found at the Carroll County Vietnam Memorial Park on Willis Street for a short impromptu ceremony. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.