October 31, 2014

SH Memorial Day ceremony draws crowd

Flags line a row of headstones in Spring Hill Cemetery on Memorial Day. Boy Scouts decorated the graves of fallen service men and women before Memorial Day. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

Corbin H. Crable
chcrable@gardnernews.com

Military aircraft roared overhead as area residents gathered in the Spring Hill Cemetery to pay tribute to fallen soldiers in a Memorial Day service on Monday.

Flags line a row of headstones in Spring Hill Cemetery on Memorial Day. Boy Scouts decorated the graves of fallen service men and women before Memorial Day. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

Spring Hill resident Dennis Sumner sat in a lawn chair flanked by family members and friends. Sumner, a lifelong resident, said he has attended the Memorial Day service in Spring Hill for as long as he can remember.

“You want to honor the dead who served your country,” Sumner said.

Serviceman and civilian, young and old alike from every branch of the U.S. military stood and watched local Boy Scouts hoist the American flag to the top of a flag pole and then lower it to half staff in honor of the deceased.

Sgt. Daniel Welch of the Kansas National Guard was one of the younger servicemen in attendance and said his family has a long history of service to their country. His family has served in the military in every major conflict since America entered World War I in 1917. Welch said his daughter has served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Welch himself also has served in Iraqi Freedom and the first Iraq war in the early 1990s.

Larry Mihelic of the Spring Hill American Legion Cole-Smith Post 350 salutes during Memorial Day ceremonies in the Spring Hill Cemetery. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

“It is an honor to put this uniform on and come here to show respect,” Welch said.

Members of the American Legion Cole Smith Post 350 and Auxiliary, as well as Sons of the American Legion, offered prayers for servicemen and women both past and present, as well as prayers asking for protection and strength against terrorism.

“Because of (veterans’) sacrifice and duty to our country, our lives are free,” Brian Johnson of the Legion reminded those in attendance.

The service also included a salute to the monument paying tribute to Spring Hill’s unknown soldiers, as well as the laying of wreaths commemorating the dead.

The event ended with the Boy Scouts taking down the flag and receiving plenty of compliments from those in attendance.

The scouts spent the day on Sunday decorating the headstones of soldiers in the cemetery. Although it has been a Boy Scout tradition for more than a decade, scoutmaster Jack Tate said, the importance of the act does not diminish over time.

A member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary lays a wreath on Memorial Day. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

“The privilege to do it – that’s what keeps us coming back,” Tate said. “It teaches them about honor.”

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