E-T Staff Report

Even though it wasn’t an official holiday until 1971, Memorial Day was begun on May 5,1868, by proclamation of General John A. Logan, as a way to honor the 6,000 fallen soldiers of the Union Army.

Then it was called Decoration Day, and during the first celebration, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which, the graves of more than 20,000 soldiers of both Union and Confederate Armies where decorated with flowers.

It was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be an official day of memory to all soldiers of any war, who had to pay the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, and ratified by Congress in 1971.

Today, the memorial extends to more than 1.1 million fallen American soldiers and the ceremony takes place in Arlington National Cemetery and is attended by approximately 5,000 people each year.

This year, to honor the memory of those passed, Turnbow-Higgs Post will hold its annual Memorial Day service at 9 a.m. on Monday at East Memorial Cemetery. The public is invited to attend.

After the ceremony, the VFW, DAV and the Ladies Auxiliary will host a breakfast at the VFW Post 9181 on East Road. Before breakfast is served, Ken Ritchey will conduct a flag retirement ceremony and the Ladies’ Auxiliary will be present the winners of the “Patriotic Art Contest” with savings bonds.

The East memorial plot was obtained from the city of Stephenville for the purpose of a burial place for those heroes brought home for permanent interment. Some of these heroes have been buried in foreign lands for as long as six years. The first 18 buried in the plot are the soldiers brought home at the time the plot was obtained following the Korean War.

The monument at the Field of Honor was dedicated in 1948 by the American Legion and contains the wording, “This memorial and this sacred plot are dedicated to the men of Erath County who made the supreme sacrifice for their country.”

Additional spaces were added later for other veterans, making 65 available spaces. When all the spots were filled, the Post requested additional area from Stephenville and they responded by giving 80 more spaces, which is now a Veterans Field of Honor at West Memorial Cemetery. The monument placed in the middle of the tracts signifies the area is for veterans of all wars who qualify for spaces there; 13 of those places are now occupied.

Turnbow-Higgs Post 240’s honor guard will assist with the program. The group can conduct an entire funeral, use the firing party, present the flag, have TAPS or any combination of them all.