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Sisters of Providence Serving Our Country

Some view Memorial Day as the beginning of summer, though officially it doesn’t begin until later in June.

This holiday was designated as such by Gen. John A. Logan on May 5, 1868. It was known for a short while as Decoration Day because of the practice of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.

However, the name Memorial Day and the designation of May 30 (later changed to the last Monday of May) took hold.

Each Memorial Day weekend flags are placed at the graves of Sisters of Providence who have served our country in some capacity during armed conflict or in some branch of the military.

It all began in 1864 when teenager Emma Hunter and a Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer met in a cemetery in Boalsburg, PA., while visiting the graves of a father and son, respectively, who died in the Civil War.

They agreed to return on the same day the following year to honor Dr. Reuben Hunter (surgeon in the Union Army) and Amos Meyer (private in the Union Army) by placing flowers on their graves and those of others who died in service and were buried in the cemetery.

Each Memorial Day weekend, in our convent cemetery at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, we place a new flag at the gravesite of 15 of our sisters and two chaplains who served our country in some capacity during armed conflict or in some branch of the military.

The purpose of this holiday has not changed. It is a day to remember and honor those who have died in our nation’s service. Placing flags and/or flowers on their graves ritualizes our gratitude and honors their memory.

Another way to commemorate this holiday is to aid the widows, widowers and children of those who died during military service or support disabled veterans by responding to one or more of their needs.

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Sister Mary Beth Klingel

Sister Mary Beth is a general officer on the leadership team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She has previously served as an elementary school teacher, pastoral minister and director of novices.

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