Rain hung back behind the clouds on Monday morning as several hundred veterans, their families, friends and other patriots gathered at East End Cemetery to honor those who gave their lives in defense of the freedoms we enjoy.
Long before the 9 o’clock appointed time, they parked their cars beside busy 281.
Men, women and children waited for American Legion Auxiliary members to pin a poppy to each shirt, a custom of remembrance dating back to WW I Armistice Day ceremonies.
Solemnly they walked single file through the field of honor where a miniature United States flag fluttered beside each white cross.
Turnbow-Higgs Post 240, the American Legion, and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 240, have provided this Memorial Day Ceremony for the public for several years and the crowd has increased each year. Richard J. Petronis, Post 240 2nd Vice-Commander was master of ceremonies and gave the history of the origin of the Field of Honor at East End and explained the continuation of the project in West End.
Petronis introduced B.R. Kirkland, Post 240 past Commander.
Commander Kirkland related that there are several slightly different versions of the origin of our present Memorial Day observance but it is agreed that this day has been set aside to honor those who died in the service of their country. The custom began after the Civil War and was called Decoration Day as flowers were scattered on the graves of soldiers who fought on both sides of the war that divided this nation. Later this day was designated Memorial Day by the United States Government and finally established on the last Monday in May.
We are obligated by this 139 year tradition to bring honor and devotion to our veterans and to God and Country,” Kirkland said. “Confederate General, Robert E. Lee spoke of the word that describes a soldier, ‘duty’. He said, ‘Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.’”
Kirkland concluded his talk with a quote from WWII United States General George S. Patton. “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, but rather to thank God that such men lived.”