Wreaths are placed on monuments this weekend, flags mark graves of our fallen soldiers, and organizations host parades and services all in commemoration of Memorial Day.

Wreaths are placed on monuments this weekend, flags mark graves of our fallen soldiers, and organizations host parades and services all in commemoration of Memorial Day.

It's a sacred time for families and comrades who'd like to erase the realities of loss and sadness. Tomorrow is our nation's official day to mourn. Flags will be raised full staff then lowered halfway in tribute.

Our veterans are the ones who keep the memories alive. They participate in programs throughout the region. Many have already been conducted.

At the Mid-Orange Correction Facility in Warwick last week, the staff conducted its annual communitywide service, a most impressive event. Attending were groups from nearby, especially those who live or work in the town and village of Warwick. Also present were members of various law enforcement agencies including the New York State Police and correction officers and state officials from Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

Facility Chaplain Eric Brown was in charge. Participants included honor guards from the facility and the JROTC at Minisink Valley High School. Radio personality Dick Wells sang the national anthem, Deacon Ricardo Rosado offered prayers, and Correction Officer James Hunt read a tribute to the flag and an honor roll of deceased employees and loved ones of staff members. Joseph Squillace, in the absence of Acting Superintendent Kevin Keller, introduced guests.

The most poignant moment occured when Caroline Lesando placed a wreath at the facility's monument that was built to honor all deceased members of the military and law enforcement community. Troubled with legs that don't move as fast as she's used to, Caroline was given a helping hand in placing the patriotic symbol in memory of her beloved son, Nicholas Jr. He was killed in action at age 21 in Vietnam, where he was serving with the U.S. Airborne Division. His father, Nicholas Sr., a World War II veteran, stood silently with his head bowed. The couple are very active in American Legion work, especially in the Warwick Post 214 that is named for their son. As Gold Star parents, they feel privileged to be invited each year to place a wreath on behalf of all parents whose child was lost serving our nation.

When the program ended, Correction Officer Kenneth Sinsabaugh and his volunteer staff of colleagues served a barbecue lunch. Everyone had pitched in to make the event meaningful. And it was. From the printed program designed by Jessica Cronic to the flyover by three pilots from the Warwick Airport, it was a slice of America at its best.

Memorial Day Services

The 140th Memorial Day celebration tomorrow at the Hamptonburgh Cemetery on Sarah Wells Trail in Campbell Hall is the region's closest observance to ones that were started in the South during the Civil War. Young girls, appropriately dressed, place fresh flowers on the graves of veterans prior to the 1:30 p.m. service. A procession moves through the cemetery. Music will be provided by the Washingtonville High School Band, Lanie Hunter will sing the national anthem, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Gen. John A Logan's orders, designating Memorial observances in 1868, will be read. The principal speaker will be Rep. John Hall. The Westtown-Unionville Memorial Ceremony tomorrow continues to be one of the region's best. The community support is unbelieveable. It starts with a program at 9 a.m. at the Westtown Community House, 807 Route 284 in Westtown. At 10:30 a.m. a parade will begin in the Village of Unionville, moving down Main Street to the cemetery on Jersey Avenue where wreaths will be placed and speakers will commemorate the day. Hopefully it won't rain, but if it does, the parade is canceled. The services, however, will be conducted at 11 a.m. in the Minisink Hose Company's firehouse. Afterward, veterans led by American Legion Commander Ted Griffin place wreaths on the designated monuments, and the firemen serve their popular refreshments, boasting the best hot dogs this side of Coney Island. The City of Middletown-Town of Wallkill Veterans Council will host its services tomorrow. The group, led by Bob Hayward, annually alternates between the city and the town. This year the laying of wreaths, firing squad and taps will begin at 8 a.m. at Thrall Park. A parade, weather permitting, will step off from the park at 9 a.m. going east on Route 211, left onto Cottage Street, left onto Wisner Avenue, right on North Street and ending at the Town of Wallkill Veterans Park, next to Maddy's Diner. At the park, which is lovingly cared for by Mike Cody, with have his collection of flags in place, services will be conducted. If it rains, the parade will be canceled, but services will be conducted at the Town of Wallkill Community Center on Wes Warren Drive, off Route 211, near the Galleria at Crystal Run. Refreshments will be served by Boy Scout Troop 169. In Goshen, veterans organizations led by American Legion Post 377 Commander Howard Weiss, will place wreaths tomorrow, beginning at 7 a.m., at several cemeteries and monuments. At 11 a.m., a parade will step off from the Government Center heading down Main Street, right on North Church, left on Murray Avenue, left on Grand Street, left on West Main, and right to the park on South Church Street, where services will be conducted. In Warwick, a parade will form at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Village Hall on Main Street. It will proceed down Main Street and up Oakland to the cemetery where services will be conducted by American Legion Post 214 and VFW Post 4662. After services, the parade will move to St. Stephen Cemetery for further services. In case it rains, services will be at the American Legion Hall. In Montgomery, the American Legion Post 521, led by Tim Dempsey, will conduct a parade tomorrow with stepoff at 11 a.m. from Wallkill Avenue between Wesley Hall and the old Grange Hall. The march will end at Veterans Memorial Park for services. The Faith in Action of Greater Middletown will have a Volunteer Appreciation Tea at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Mulberry House, 62-70 E. Main St., Middletown. In order to have enough refreshments, Doris Rubinsky (341-1173, ext. 304) requests an RSVP. Catholic War Veterans Post 386 will meet at noon Wednesday at the New Windsor Community Center. Membership is open. For information, e-mail Michael Burke at Mike@VerlaInternational.com.

Dr. Jo Ann Quattrone, a Warwick native who retired from her Monroe dental practice last year, is heading to El Cañon, an orphanage in Nicaragua. While visiting a friend in February, she met the 50 children in the orphanage and fell in love with a sweet, brown-eyed 4-year-old named Julia. Quattrone is appealing for money to help with the various needs at the orphanage and is getting a hand from the Warwick Valley Rotary, whose president is Alan Quigley. Donations can be sent to the Rotary, Nicaragua Project, P.O. Box 121, Warwick 10990. Quattrone can be reached at DRJQ1@hotmail.com/.

Barbara Bedell's column appears daily. Call her at 346-3125.