GREENE — The American Legion Lloyd O. Jackson Post 692 in the Town of Greene will be holding a Memorial Day service beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 29. The service begins at the Moore Memorial Library, located at 59 Genesee Street in Greene.
Post 692 holds a Memorial Day parade each year that includes Legion members, veterans, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Modern Day Knights, Heritage Girls, police officers, members of local and neighboring fire departments, vintage cars provided by Chenango Sales in Greene, and a local band.
Another special guest in attendance will be the Legion's oldest member, just one month shy of his 100th birthday.
Also in the parade is a float carrying several crosses that list the major wars and conflicts the United States has been involved in since the Revolution.
"At the back of that we usually have a table and an empty chair with a POW banner over it to signify the missing man table. And sometimes we have a stuffed dog, not a real one, but one that looks very real and he’s looking at the empty chair," explained Post 692 Commander Larry Bourque.
From the library, the parade will march up to Sylvan Lawn Cemetery, with a few stops along the way. A wreath will be presented at a veterans memorial in town, and a biodegradable wreath will be tossed into the Chenango River in honor of those who died at Pearl Harbor and at sea.
The service will be held in an area of the cemetery recently refurbished by a local Boy Scout.
"It was kind of uneven, pine tree branches were growing down, and we have a lot of elderly up there. So he wanted to try to make it easier," said Bourque. "So he did this as an Eagle Scout project. He put in a couple of benches, he leveled it, he put in a flag pole, and he put in a place to mount the wreaths. In the past the wreaths was just on a little wire stand and the wind could blow it over."
The area also has crosses signifying soldiers from Greene who died during World War II.
At the cemetery, a garrison flag, which is an extra-large American flag, that was carried in the parade will be folded properly while a speaker reads what each fold means. "Taps" will be performed by the Greene High School band, and the American Legion Post 692 Honor Guard will perform a rifle firing to honor departed soldiers.
The service will also feature guest speaker Senator Peter Oberacker.
"This year, we have a surprise for the people: We’ve secured the services of a bagpiper. So he will be there, he will march in the parade, he will play some songs," said Bourque. "He’s going to march up and then at the cemetery he has two songs that he’s going to blend together to play at the cemetery. So I think it’ll be a treat for some of the Greene-ites."
"Every year we try to look for something a little different or a little new," he added. "One year we did our float, then another year we did a musical float with the band on it. Then we did the reading of the folds as they fold it. So we’re always looking for something a little different to try to make it special for those that attend."
Although the American Legion Lloyd O. Jackson Post 692 is small, its members do a lot for the community. This year they're giving out three $800 scholarships to local students, and are sending a male student to Boys' State.
"That is where the boys go to a camp. The camp is run by the Marines, so they get a little bit of military indoctrination. But it’s geared toward politics, also," Bourque explained. "So they will march and everything that you do like kind of in basic or that type of thing. But they have to elect a mayor of the camp, they have to elect a governor, or they have to elect public officials and sit through different internal public dealings. So they get to learn about politics and the military."
There is a similar program for female students called Girls' State, but Bourque said they are unable to participate because Post 692 doesn't have an Auxiliary. Instead, they created their own program for female students.
"We started thinking, what can we do for the girls? Because it’s not fair to leave them out," Bourque said. "One of our members said, how about we make an arrangement to bring them up to Albany where they can mingle with the politicians up there? Do a little one on one with them, question them. So we call it Girls Leadership, and to my knowledge we’re the only Post nationwide that does that."
Each year on December 7, Post 692 also holds a short service at the Chenango River Bridge to honor those lost at Pearl Harbor.
Before each Memorial Day, members visit 14 area cemeteries and place around 1,200 flags on the grave sites of veterans, then take them back out and retire them by fire after Veterans Day.
"We pick them up after Veterans Day. We don’t leave them out through the winter because they get buried in the snow, and we don’t want to see the flag on the ground," said Bourque. "The Immaculate Conception Church offered a little section of land to put up a retirement hallow. So we go in there, and that was a Boy Scout project for his Eagle Scout. He built it and got it all set up. So we go there after we collect them and we do a proper ceremony to destroy the flags."
Bourque said they also hope to host an ice cream social this year to give community members the opportunity to meet and learn more about the organization.
"We figured that'll give us some view from the locals that we're there, we’re active," he said. "We’re a tiny Post, but for our size we do a lot."
More information on the American Legion Lloyd O. Jackson Post 692 can be found on the American Legion NY Post 692 Lloyd O Jackson Facebook page.