By Janet Coulter, MSN, MS, RN, CCM, FCM

Memorial Day has always been a special occasion for my family. What great memories! Each year, in my Ohio hometown, over 30,000 people attend and over 1,000 participate in the Memorial Day Parade. It is a long-standing tradition to memorialize those who fought and died for our country's freedom. The first parade was held in 1868. Andrew Johnson was president. Congress has recognized this parade as the longest, most continuous Memorial Day parade in the United States. What an honor for my hometown!

Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day, originated during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who died in battle. After World War I, as the day came to be observed in honor of those who had died in all U.S. wars, its name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May. The tradition now includes those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Nationally, Memorial Day is observed with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

This year marks the 155th parade for my hometown. The theme is “Honored Service”. The parade starts with the playing of taps followed by a riderless horse, a 21-gun salute, and a flyover by the military.  As part of the observation during the week before Memorial Day, flags will go up in the veterans’ section of the community cemetery and on the bridge that crosses over the highway. Flags are placed on all veteran’s graves. It is such a beautiful, patriotic sight! In addition, a special ceremony will be held at the veterans’ section of the cemetery. The opening ceremony of the Vietnam Memorial Wall is scheduled and will be followed by fireworks at the riverfront. There is also an annual Navy Night ceremony.

The parade has many participants from the tri-state area. There are numerous bands, floats, youth groups, church groups, cheerleaders, 4H clubs, boy and girl scout troops, horses, antique cars, dance studios, beauty queens, fire trucks, community elected officials, and much more from all around the tri-state! One of the best parts of the parade is the Shriners. They are always a highlight of the parade. So entertaining — Shriners bring their band, clowns, funny cars, and many laughs!

As elementary school students, we marched in the Memorial Day parade carrying flowers that our mothers provided. At the end, we exchanged the flowers for our report card and then we knew summer was officially starting! We always had a family picnic followed by “competition-friendly” outdoor games. As a junior high and high school student, I marched with the band. What a thrill! The high school band always had the honor of leading the parade. With the passage of more years, my family watched the parade from a dear high school friend’s house which was on the parade route. There was always plenty of food and friends we had not seen in a while! I looked forward to this every year. Now my family is older, and we have moved away. We still visit my hometown to decorate my family’s graves. But it’s different now. I watch the parade on Facebook Live and share in all the excitement. I’m so glad to see that this tradition continues to survive and flourish in my hometown — What great memories!

Be sure you remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Thank you, veterans, for your service!


Janet is presenting at the 2023 CMSA Annual Conference in Las Vegas with the concurrent session "Leadership: Generational Diversity in the Workplace", Wednesday, June 28 at 9:45 AM - 10:45 AM and the poster "Unconscious Bias: Do You Know What Influences You?", Wednesday, June 28 at 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM. Be sure to also join her for "The Case Manager’s Writing Workshop: Get Started and Stay Motivated!" The 4-hour pre-conference writer's workshop which she will be presenting along with her CMSA Today Editorial Board Vice-Chair, Mary Beth Newman, on Tuesday, June 27. Register now at

Bio: Janet Coulter, MSN, MS, RN, CCM, FCM, is a transplant case manager with a wide variety of experiences including educator, administrator, team leader, and Director of Case Management. Janet holds a Master of Science in Nursing from West Virginia University and a Master of Science in Adult Education from Marshall University. She has published many articles in CMSA Today and the Professional Case Management Journal and served as a reviewer for the Core Curriculum for Case Management Third Edition. She currently serves as Chair of the CMSA Today Editorial Board and Secretary of the CMSA Foundation board. Janet was the recipient of the CMSA National Award of Service Excellence and Southern Ohio Valley CMSA Case Management Leadership award and was recently inducted as a Case Management Fellow from CMSA.