Celebrating Memorial Day
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May to honor the brave men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Early observances of Memorial Day began in the late 1860s as tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, as American towns and cities decorated graves with flowers. It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
In May 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month on May 30th. He proclaimed this date as Decoration Day, as he called it, because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery— the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there were decorated. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their fallen soldiers on separate days until after World War I.
Evolution of Memorial Day
Memorial Day—as Decoration Day gradually came to be known—evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, but 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. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Memorial Day Parades
Many cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Parades signify a sense of community and pride and a time for fun. If your Post participates in a Memorial Day parade—by sponsoring or organizing a float or trailer—be sure to follow all guidelines as set forth by parade organizers. This will help to ensure safety of participants and spectators. To safeguard your Post and members from unforeseen liabilities that can be part of parade participation, be sure to carry a general liability insurance policy with adequate limits. If you have questions about your Post’s current liability policy or to inquire about higher limits, call our team at 1-800-829-8390.
Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!
Determining Your Building's Value
It’s often confusing to determine what the accurate limit of insurance for Post buildings should be to ensure proper Replacement Cost Values are in place on your insurance policy. Many Posts have experienced declining market value on their Post and expect that the cost to replace the building is also declining. In reality, the fixed costs of supplies and labor are not decreasing.
When determining if your building insurance limit is adequate, you must remember that the insurance carrier is looking for the cost to rebuild the building as it stands today. When determining what limit of coverage you need, you should talk with your account manager about how your Post may be re-built in the event of a loss. Would the Post be re-built exactly as it is today or would you downsize to a smaller building or a different type of building altogether? Perhaps re-building might not be necessary at all for a variety of reasons. In this case, Actual Cash Value might be a better way address the building valuation on your policy.
The Post Insurance Program uses Marshall Swift to calculate building Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value amounts. Marshall Swift is a reputable company who is widely considered to be the authority on building valuation. However, if you firmly disagree with the Replacement Cost and/or Actual Cash Value calculated amounts, you may consider hiring an appraiser licensed in your state that is familiar with developing Replacement Cost Values.
Wheelchair Ramp Safety
Wheelchair ramps are designed to help chair and scooter users have freedom and mobility. However, when wheelchair ramps are not designed and constructed properly, they can be dangerous and difficult to use. Per the American's with Disabilities Act, please keep these specifications in mind when constructing ramps at your Post:
1. The least possible slope should be used for any ramp. For new buildings the maximum slope should be 1:12 and the maximum rise for any run shall be 30 inches. When adding a ramp to an existing building, if there are space limitations that prohibit use of a 1:12 slope or less, the slope of between 1:10 and 1:12 is allowed for a maximum rise of 6 inches or a slope between 1:8 and 1:10 is allowed for a maximum rise of 3 inches. A slope steeper than 1:8 is not allowed.
2. The clear width of the ramp should be no less than 36 inches across in order to allow wheelchairs the space they need to move safely up and down the ramp.
3. Ramps need level landings at the bottom and top of each ramp and each ramp run. Landings need to be at least as wide as the ramp and have a 60 inch clearing. If the ramp changes direction at the landings the minimum landing size shall be 60 inches by 60 inches.
4. If the ramp has a rise greater than 6 inches or a horizontal projection greater than 72 inches, then it shall have continuous handrails on both sides. If they are not continuous, they should extend at least 12 inches beyond the top and bottom of the ramp segment and should be parallel with the floor and ground surface. There should be 1 ½ inches between the wall and the handrail and it should be mounted between 34 and 38 inches above the ramp surfaces. Handrails should not rotate within their fittings and the ends should either be rounded or returned smoothly to the floor, wall or post.
5. If the ramp is wooden, apply grit strips or coat it with sand paint to make it slip resistant 6. Outdoor ramps and their approaches should be designed so that water will not accumulate on the walking surfaces.
Motorcycle Riders and Your Post: What You Need to Know
Many posts and departments incorporate a motorcycle riders program into their activities. It’s an understandable addition to any post: the riding clubs attract new members and their activities are effective fund raising opportunities to support community, state and nation. However, before your riders hit the road, there are some legal issues to consider. If you decide to have a riders group at your post, it’s imperative that you protect the post from potential litigation.
First, every rider should sign a waiver. The waiver should include a statement indicating the rider carries liability insurance for himself and all passengers that meets the minimum state, city and/or local insurance requirements; it should also indicate that the rider carries a valid driver’s license. You will need a section to indemnify the post against liability for damages caused by the rider, his passenger and/or his motorcycle. Make this waiver part of the application process for the club, and check with your lawyer to be sure it includes all the information your post needs.
While a waiver should remove the risk of legal action resulting from an accident, it may not; the injured party could easily add your post to the list of defendants in a lawsuit. If a group of riders in the community has your chapter name emblazoned on their riding jackets, lawyers could argue that the riders were representing your post at the event (even if the event is not sponsored by the Post), potentially making your Post liable.
The best way to protect the post is to update its insurance to include Hired and Non-Owned Automobile coverage on your general liability policy. It is standard for Hired and Non-Owned Automobile limits to match your General Liability limits. You do not need to provide auto coverage for the riders, they should have their own. Contact the Post Insurance Program to make sure you have the coverage you need. A call today could save your post from costly legal hassles in the future.