For more than 30 years, Pat Hartman's mission on the Friday before Memorial Day was routine and of the utmost importance.

The president of the American Legion Post 220 Auxiliary examined every veteran's grave in Union Grove Cemetery, ensuring each had an American flag on display.

"We always made sure no grave was overlooked," said Hartman, who will turn 92 on May 30. "The veterans today, I think, are kind of forgotten. The young people have no idea what those fellas went through during (World War II)."

Hartman's involvement in this year's ceremonies, which begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 28, in Union Grove Cemetery, 400 Winchester-Cemetery Road, Canal Winchester, will be limited to a few remarks on behalf of the American Legion post. After years of personally organizing the event, she's retiring.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10523 agreed to take over organizing and hosting the ceremony in cooperation with the Legion post.

"She's done it all on her own, but she won't brag on herself," VFW Post Commander Rick Williams said. "She's from the old school where she does it because she wants to and doesn't want a pat on the back."

Hartman has been recovering from a broken hip, but it won't keep her from being at the ceremony, which includes the Canal Winchester High School band, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts and members of the military.

The year's speaker is Dr. Dana Robinson-Street, a U.S. Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase waged by coalition forces against Iraq in 1991. Street pursued a career in medicine and currently practices in Columbus.

Past speakers have included local pastors and service members. One of them, a Methodist minister, the Rev. Richard Boone of Reynoldsburg, left an impression on Hartman after he went through the cemetery, gathering the names of veterans, which he mentioned during his speech.

"I still have a copy of his speech," Hartman said. "It was really interesting. He really dug into the history of the cemetery."

Hartman's husband, William, who died in 2010, was a Marine who fought in the South Pacific. The two met while attending Ohio University.

In 1947, the couple moved to Canal Winchester, where they owned the Canal Winchester Times newspaper from 1955 until the late 1960s before selling it. Hartman's husband purchased the newspaper from his mother, who inherited it from its founder.

She also has been active in the Canal Winchester Historical Society and recently attended the reopening of the National Barbershop Museum and Hall of Fame in Canal Winchester.

While some say the significance of Memorial Day is lost in backyard barbecues and the unofficial start of summer, Hartman said she has noted a resurgence of an effort to honor those who have given their lives in the name of freedom.

The first national observance, established as Decoration Day, was held May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy were honored for their sacrifices during the Civil War.

"I think people are getting more Americanized or at least interested in what we're all about, or how we were founded," Hartman said.

Groveport plans

Memorial Day ceremonies hosted by Robert Dutro American Legion Post 486 will be held at two locations in Groveport on Monday, May 28.

The ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. in Asbury Cemetery, 4760 Winchester Pike, and 10:30 a.m. in Fernwood Cemetery, 460 Rowe Road.

A Memorial Day parade begins at 1:15 p.m. on Front Street, near Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., and continues to Groveport Cemetery on Wirt Road.

A third Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled to start there at 1:30 p.m. The Groveport High School Marching Band will perform.

Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served at Motts Military Museum, 5075 S. Hamilton Road, which is providing military vehicles for the parade.

Post 486 is named after local resident Robert Dutro, who joined the Marines in 1917 at the age of 15 during World War I. He died in France on July 19, 1918.

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