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Why Memorial Day Is Better in Wapello May 25, 2009

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Small Town Life, Wapello.
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Memorial Day is different in small towns like Wapello.  When I lived in the city, it was just another day off.  Here, we set aside the morning to honor our dead.

Let me tell you how we go about it.

We began at the river about 8:30.   The VFW color guard and rifles marched slowly toward the bridge where they were joined by the master of ceremonies, a local pastor, the women’s auxiliary, and a woman who carried a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers.  They continued onto the bridge. After a brief prayer by the pastor, the woman dropped the wreath into the water while someone piped the burial call with a bosun’s whistle.   Then the rifles fired a salute.

The ceremonies adjourned to the cemetery on the other side of town.  Four long rows of large flags snapped and popped in the stiff breeze.  Each flag had a name on the binding.  Each represented a man who had served his country in wartime.

A trio sang, a local lawyer, who had never served in the military, spoke of his appreciation for the sacrifices made on his behalf by those who had fallen and of his abiding respect for all who had served our nation.  General Logan’s order that established Memorial Day after the Civil War was read. Another rifle salute.  The ceremony concluded with Taps.

The ceremonies were simple and dignified.  Afterward, most went on to the community center for breakfast together.

Now, it may be that events like these occur under the radar in large cities, where most of the focus seems to be on ball games and auto races, but here a substantial portion of the town was present, watching, listening, and praying.

Here we also see things differently.

If an outsider had watched the color guard coming up the street, they would have seen only some old men struggling with their flags in the wind.  But we saw something different.

We saw our fathers, grandfathers, and friends.  We saw men; who, having served their country in battle, had lived their entire lives in that same spirit of service.  They were the men who got things done.  They built the parks, planted the trees, and created the memorials.  They were members of Kiwanis and the other civic organizations that support and strengthen our community.  And when we stood and joined them in honoring those who had fallen, we also honored them.

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