Local News – Oregon Marine Dies in Combat; Memorial Day Observances

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Remembering Those Who Have Fallen…

An Oregon Marine who died late last week in Afghanistan had been making plans for a July wedding.  The Defense Department says 22-year old Corporal Keaton G. Coffey of Boring was killed Thursday in combat.  He was a member of the 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, 1st Marine Headquarters Group deployed to Helmond Province in Afghanistan.  It was his second tour in the country.  Coffey graduated from Damascus Christian School in 2007.  His former principal, Tim Oakley, says Coffey was polite and respectful and – quote – “every parents dream”.  The marine, who’s father spent more than 35-years with the Portland Fire Bureau, planned to become a firefighter after he was done with his Marine Corps service.

Flags will fly at half staff until noon today in honor of those who have fallen in service.  The U.S. Flag Code specifies that all flags should be raised to the top of the staff at midday.

Several observances of Memorial Day are planned for the area today… in Florence there will be an 11 AM service at Veterans Memorial Park on West Bay Street.  The Coast Guard will lay wreathes on the water following the ceremony.  It’s organized by the American Legion, but several other veteran’s organizations and individuals are participating.

At Noon, a parade in Reedsport will pay honor to fallen veterans.  The route begins at 2nd Street and Water Avenue and winds through the Old Town area on Highway 38.  A 1:30 memorial service is set for Hahn Park.

The Oregon Coast Military Heritage Museum will also honor Memorial Day with a special ceremony at one PM.  Tours of the facility, under construction on Kingwood Street near the airport, are planned, as well as an advance look at their “Freedom Remembrance Wall”.

Two traditions to honor fallen soldiers are traced to the Civil War era…. Setting aside one day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers… Memorial Day was adopted by many northern communities in the mid 1860s, emulating a southern tradition that was meant to remember family members and friends who had passed away.

The Commander of the Army of the Republic, John A. Logan, issued the first official proclamation of Memorial Day in May of 1868.  That was after several communities in upstate New York set aside one day in May to honor slain Civil War Soldiers by decorating their graves.

The tradition of playing “Taps” is associated with military funerals but it actually began as a way of signaling ‘lights out’ in military encampments.  Shortly after the introduction of the simple, yet haunting melody, a funeral was held for a fallen soldier and the man’s commanding officer decided the traditional rifle volley over the soldier’s grave might trigger more fighting.  So instead, he called in the bugler to play the ‘new’ tune.