I have been given the honor of helping unveil a Battlefield Cross at Reedsport’s Memorial Weekend. This will be an excellent educational opportunity because the Battlefield Cross is a symbol often not understood by people who did not serve our country.

Used to memorialize fallen soldiers in combat, the Battlefield Cross supposedly dates back to the Civil War, a time when fallen soldiers were transported home or to a nearby area designated as a battlefield cemetery, rather than being buried where they fell.

The Battlefield Cross memorial consists of the soldier’s boots, rifle, dog tags and helmet. The boots are placed on the ground. The rifle’s bayonet is stuck in the ground behind the boots. The dog tags are hung from the rifle’s grip and the helmet is placed atop the butt.

The veterans who manage the website battlecrossgeneration.org explain what each part of the memorial signifies.

“The helmet and identification tags signify the fallen soldier, their name never to be forgotten. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer, a break in the action to pay tribute to our friend. The combat boots, worn and dirty, represents the final march of the soldier’s last battle. After a set period of time, the memorial is respectfully dismantled, with the components being returned to the unit for appropriate disposition.”

The Reedsport Ceremony is at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 24 at the Hahn Park War Memorial in downtown Reedsport, following a 2 p.m. parade through the city. A veteran’s dinner follows from 4 to 6:30 p.m. with a patriotic concert at the Pacific Auditorium planned for 7 p.m.

Reedsport’s Memorial Day Ceremony is Monday, May 25 at the Masonic Cemetery at 3021 Longwood Dr., at 10 a.m. This memorial service is provided by the Reedsport VFW Post 3594 and the Reedsport American Legion Post 62.

Later this month, Douglas County veterans are invited to a special meeting for the United States Submarine Veterans Incorporated (USSVI).

Chuck Pratt, Vice Commander of the Rogue-Umpqua Base of the USSVI contacted me to share an open invitation to all veterans. The USSVI is veteran service organization dedicated to (1) perpetuating the memory of shipmates who gave their lives while serving their country; and (2) providing a way for all submariners to gather together for mutual benefit and enjoyment.

The Rogue-Umpqua Base of the USSVI will host a noon meeting on Friday, May 29 at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville. The meeting is in the Huckleberry Room and is followed with a lunch for $15 per person.

Interested in attending? Pratt recommended an RSVP by Monday, May 25 to Commander Ken Earls at 541-630-0885 or Pratt at 541-459-2911.

John J. Geoghegan, author of Operation Storm: Japan’s Top Secret Submarines and its Plan to Change the Course of World War II, is the guest speaker.

“We are lucky to have such a dynamic and educational speaker,” said Pratt. “Geoghegan will share little-known facts about how World War II came to Oregon.”

Pratt said the USSVI meeting will honor veterans lost at sea with a bell ceremony, known as a ‘being on eternal patrol.’ The meeting will also include a celebration of a recent flag donation.

“The flag was commissioned over the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), on April 11 of this year, which is the birthday of the United States Submarine Force,” said Pratt. “The first modern commissioned submarine was the USS Holland (SS-1), purchased by the United States on April 11, 1900.”

USSVI Rogue-Umpqua Base meets every two months throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California. Visit www.ussvi.org to learn more information about the organization.

God bless our veterans and God bless America.

Have information to share with Douglas County veterans? Contact me at jd.mcdonald.jd@gmail.com or 541-580-6178.

John McDonald is a combat veteran of Operation Desert Storm with more than seventeen years of military service. He currently serves in the Oregon National Guard. John is president of the Douglas County Veterans Forum, and serves as a member of the Douglas County Veterans Advisory Committee, the Patrick W. Kelley VFW Post 2468 and the Earle B. Stewart American Legion Post 16.

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