The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Community comes together to observe Memorial Day

 

Rick Nelson

With veterans lined behind him, Bill Tawater delivered an address urging listerners to remember and honor the service and sacrifice of those who serve in the armed forces.

Last Thursday morning, John C. Thomas Middle School teacher Eric Hansen made his 10th annual trip with a class of eighth graders to Greenwood Cemetery, where they would be met by several members of the local VFW to decorate veterans' graves with flags for Memorial Day.

After an introduction, local veteran Bob Roche spoke for a moment on the significance of Memorial Day and gave a brief history of the holiday.

"Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day," Roche told the students. "It was started by the women in the South, in about 1863, when they decorated the graves of their soldiers."

He noted that the women not only put flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers, they decorated the graves of the men who had been their enemies, the Union soldiers.

"Memorial Day is about those who lost their lives in war," he continued. "It's all about them. It's not about the veterans you see here. We have our day in November. It is about remembering them and remembering their families too. They are still suffering."

Diana Zimmerman

Two Thomas Middle School eighth graders worked together to place a flag at the grave of a Wahkiakum County serviceman.

He asked the students to set aside some time during the three day weekend for a moment of silence or a prayer to remember what they had learned on Thursday.

Then it was time to split the 31 students into four groups. Hansen started shouting out names, and the kids made their way over to the volunteers who would guide them through the cemetery, as they placed flags at graves.

Terrie Eaton instructed the students not to drag the flags on the ground.

"These people died for that flag," she said to them. "They've got to be told," she said to me. "They don't know."

Row by row, with list in hand, the students began placing flags on the graves of the Wahkiakum residents who had served. One section leader, VFW District Commander Danny Eaton, shared anecdotes and kind words about the people he had known, a conduit between the past and the present.

 

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