GRAVETTE -- Gravette area citizens gathered at Hillcrest Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 29, to celebrate Memorial Day.
Many of the graves in the surrounding cemetery were marked with flags denoting the burial site of a military veteran. Other flags flew on flagpoles at the front of the cemetery and on the Avenue of Flags lining the central driveway, placed there by American Legion members and other volunteers.
John E. Tracy American Legion Post 25 hosts the annual Memorial Day ceremony. Post chaplain Jheri Roberts opened the service with prayer, asking that God help those in attendance honor the valor and devotion of their departed friends and teach them to continue supporting the values they fought for.
Veterans Anita Young, post second vice commander, and her husband Chad raised the United States flag and then lowered it to half-mast. Al Blair and Jeff Davis, members of the Old Town String Band, played the national anthem, and post commander Mark Russow led the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
Russow welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming "to honor the memory of those who have gone before and renew our pledge of loyalty to our country." Post adjutant Mike Carnahan placed a POW-MIA flag on the back of an empty chair, a ritual conducted at each Legion meeting as a symbol of remembrance for those men and women still unaccounted for. Al Blair and Jeff Davis played "America the Beautiful."
Army veteran Robert Honderich was the speaker for the occasion. He noted that the group had gathered to honor all veterans, but the holiday was initially intended to remember those who died in battle and those who came home but have since died. Honderich gave a brief history of Memorial Day, reminding attendees that it was once called "Remembrance Day." He said he had been to many Memorial Day services in many locations, and the American Legion always seemed to be involved in each one. He thanked Legion members for "helping us remember and helping future generations continue to remember the sacrifices made." He thanked Post 25 for organizing the ceremony and all those who attended.
Blair and Davis played "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?" and then taps was played.
Chaplain Roberts gave a closing prayer, asking that God comfort the hearts of those who have lost loved ones in war "and let them know that we do not forget their sacrifice."