By Carol Stiffler
For the last 100 years, the tombstone for young Hugh Allan MacInnes has been decorated with honor for Memorial Day. MacInnes died in World War 1 in a battle in France, in a battalion that also had dozens of other Yoopers. A Newberry native, MacInnes was buried in France. He was 26. A grave marker that bears his name sits inside our Forest Home Cemetery.
American Legion member and local veteran George Blakely had the honor of decorating MacInnes’s grave at the 2021 Memorial Day ceremony, held on Monday, May 31. The ceremony was held inside the cemetery and was attended by a crowd of about 75 people.
The service began with a prayer by Pastor Melinda VanderSys, followed by a performance by the Newberry High School band. Newberry High School junior Mackenzie Dunbar and senior Claire Neeb gave speeches to honor those who died for our country, and reminded listeners that the day is much more than a holiday.
Local historian and Sons of the American Legion member Sterling McGinn gave the main address. McGinn said he had been taking part in Memorial Day ceremonies since middle school, when he attended them with the band. He felt the importance of the day and has attended and served at each local Memorial Day since, a tradition he will continue.
McGinn gave history about MacInnes, for whom Newberry’s American Legion Post 74 is named. He noted that he is currently 26, the same age MacInnes was when he died in combat.
Final speaker Randy Griffis, who is about to retire from a long career at Newberry High School, gave the roll call for soldiers who did not come home from war. Newberry lost a significant amount of young men in wars through the years, he said, and he mentioned their names by war and military unit.
A six-gun rifle salute by the Legion Honor Guard, and the playing of Taps by Sterling McGinn, completed the program.