History column: Lake Geneva’s Memorial Day parade was a highlight of the year |


The parade was led by the members of the American Legion’s “Firing Squad.” I remember Sidney Kahn, Herman Quade, and other members of the Legion’s “Firing Squad” marching smartly down Broad Street with Springfield .03 rifles carried on their shoulders.

They were followed by Lake Geneva’s fire trucks, the “Treble Clef” which was the Lake Geneva High School girls chorus, a contingent of “flower girls” comprised of very young girls carrying bouquets of flowers which they would place around the “Cenotaph” in Library Park (my mother Helen Wardingle Quinn and my aunt Frances Wardingle Malsch were “flower girls” in Lake Geneva’s Memorial Day ceremonies from 1912 to 1918), contingents of “Brownies” and Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, the Lake Geneva High School band, a contingent of Northwestern Military and Naval Academy Cadets and their band, a contingent of Air Force personal stationed at the U.S. Air Force’s Radar Base then at the southeast corner of Palmer Road and Highway 67, many convertibles with their tops down in which rode the Lake Geneva Mayor and other dignitaries, the Lake Geneva Junior High School band, a contingent of members of the American Legion, and numerous other contingents.

The parade always marched south on Broad Street to Main Street where it turned right and marched west on Main Street to the Library Park south of Warren Street where the Memorial Day ceremony was held. A wreath was placed on the water of Geneva Lake commemorating the soldiers and sailors who had died at sea. The “flower girls” placed their bouquets of flowers at the base of the Cenotaph, the American Legion’s “Firing Squad” fired volleys, the “Treble Clef” sang songs, the High School band and the Junior High band played patriotic music, speakers read General John A. Logan’s “General Order No. 11” which designated May 30 as a Memorial Day in honor of the Union war dead, and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” The Mayor then addressed the assembled crowd.



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