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Memorial Day ceremonies in Bel Air, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen welcome back the public on Monday

After some cancelations and modifications last year, organizers in each of Harford County’s three municipalities have Memorial Day remembrance ceremonies planned for their communities on Monday.

Memorial Day, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States military, was originally known as Decoration Day. Though it originated in the years after the Civil War, it became an official federal holiday in 1971, celebrated the last Monday in May.

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Gene Wlock, left, and Kenneth Shrieves, right, with the Marine Corps League, Harford County Detachment 1198 make their way to the front to place a wreath for the Marine Corps during the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony in Bel Air.
Gene Wlock, left, and Kenneth Shrieves, right, with the Marine Corps League, Harford County Detachment 1198 make their way to the front to place a wreath for the Marine Corps during the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony in Bel Air. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

After canceling its event last year due to the coronavirus, the American Legion Harford Post 39 is returning to Shamrock Park in Bel Air for its Memorial Day ceremony.

The ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m. Monday with a DJ playing patriotic music. Typically, the Bel Air Community Band would play, but it cannot assemble on the small stage at Shamrock Park due to the pandemic, according to the Post 39 website.

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A wreath-laying ceremony, featuring the Jarrettsville Young Marines honor guard, will then take place. At the conclusion of the wreath laying, a rifle salute will be given by the Marine Corps League, Cpl. Pete Arnold Detachment 1198. Taps is then played, followed by the playing of “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.” The audience is encouraged to join soloist Don Teesdale in singing.

The ceremony will conclude with benediction, and the retiring of the Colors by the American Legion Harford Post 39 Color Guard.

Members of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 39 hand out paper poppies before the ceremony. The practice of wearing the poppies in remembrance comes from the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

Written by World War I Col. John McCrae around 1915, the poem paints the image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses marking the graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields, located in the region of western Belgium and northern France, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Wreaths are placed in front of the War Memorial during a Memorial Day service in Tydings Park on May 25, 2020.
Wreaths are placed in front of the War Memorial during a Memorial Day service in Tydings Park on May 25, 2020. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

There will be two ceremonies associated with Memorial Day in Havre de Grace, both organized by the Joseph L. Davis American Legion Post 47.

At 9 a.m. Monday, a service will take place at Angel Hill Cemetery, located at the corner of Ohio and Ontario Streets.

A Memorial Day ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. near the War Memorial at Tydings Park, located at 908 S. Washington St.

In Aberdeen, the American Legion Bernard L. Tobin Post 128 will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at Veterans Memorial Park, located at the intersection of Parke and Rogers streets, next to the library.

At nearby Festival Park, the American Flags of Honor are already flying ahead of Memorial Day. The display of personalized flags, sponsored by the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, shows support for active duty, veterans, and deceased military members.

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