The 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 is this weekend. On May 30, 1911, a native of Spartansburg — Ray Harroun — won the first Indianapolis 500. He won with a time of 6:14:08 in his bright yellow Marmon Wasp, driving an average speed of 75 mph.

The Wasp was a heavier car, so Harroun opted to not have a ride-along mechanic. The mechanic was the person who rode along in the early days of racing to keep a lookout for other cars and attend to mechanical needs. When his competitors complained of the dangers of not having a ride-along, Harroun rigged up a rear view mirror. He was the first to use one in a race car.

Mark Hulings did a watercolor commemorating the 75th anniversary of Harroun’s win. The day Mark finished, Dec. 13, 1983, he took the painting to the Riceville post office to have it postmarked. When the 100th anniversary rolled around, he added the first day cover stamp from the Spartansburg post office.

The most important event this weekend is Memorial Day. Remember, Memorial Day is not about cold drinks and BBQ.

According to historians, Boalsburg, Pa. is the birthplace of Memorial Day. On July 4, 1864, ladies decorated Civil War soldiers’ graves in Boalsburg. However, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Originally known as Decoration Day, it became a federal holiday in 1971.

In 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of a Northern Civil War veterans organization, called for a nationwide day of remembrance.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country …,” he proclaimed.

The date of “Decoration Day,” as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

So, yes, get together with friends and family and enjoy the day. But, I urge you to also take time to reflect on the reason you have Memorial Day. Were it not for the men and women who gave their all, you might not have the freedoms you enjoy on a daily basis.

Visit a cemetery and read some of the stones that are marked with flags. Be thankful and honor their sacrifice.

What’s up?

— Mixed level yoga is Wednesday and Zumba is Thursday at the Water Street Apartments Gym, 150 Water Street. Both classes begin at 6 p.m. and there is a fee.

— Spartansburg Borough electronics and tire recycling event is May 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Raccoon Refuse, 44939 Old Route 77. It is free for borough residents. There is a fee for township residents.

Contact me

Do you have something to share? Carol may be reached at People are welcome to submit news, activities, and items of interest pertaining to Spartansburg. Email by noon on Saturdays.

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