Wreath-laying ceremony at the World War I monument on West Main Street, Memorial Day 2022. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead will hold its annual ceremonies and parade marking Memorial Day on Monday.

Memorial Day, a holiday that has its roots at the end of the Civil War, is a day of remembrance for the more than 1.3 million Americans who gave their lives in military service to our country since 1775. The holiday used to be known as Decoration Day, a day when Union Civil War veterans honored those who had died in conflict. 

Decoration Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. “Memorial Day” began to supplant “Decoration Day” as the name of the holiday as time went on, and it became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Riverhead’s Memorial Day parade will step off on Osborn Avenue at Pulaski Street at 9 a.m. It will proceed south on Osborn Avenue to the World War I monument on the corner of Court and West Main streets, where ceremonies will be held on the lawn.

The parade will continue east on Main Street to Roanoke Avenue, and then north on Roanoke to St. John’s Place, where it will stop for services at St. John’s Cemetery.

It will then continue north to Riverhead Cemetery on Pulaski Street, where services will be conducted at the Civil War monument.

The ceremonies downtown will conclude with services at the War Memorial on the corner of Osborn Avenue and Pulaski Street.

A ceremony at St. Isidore’s Cemetery on Horton Avenue will follow the conclusion of the downtown ceremony.

The 2023 parade and ceremonies are organized by the Van Rensselaer Skidmore Post 2476 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. in Riverhead.

Calverton National Cemetery will host its Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, starting at 1 p.m. in the assembly area at the end of Princeton Boulevard.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com