American Legion posts hold Memorial Day services

Monday, May 28, 2012
American Legion Pendergrass-Rose Post 36 Commander Clint Miller speaks at Memorial Day services at the Veterans Park in Holiday Island Monday. He gave statistics about war dead and wounded, totalling more than 2.5 million. Kathryn Lucariello / Carroll County News

As they do every year, both Western Carroll County American Legion posts gathered on Monday for Memorial Day services.

Post 36 color guard wait to bring the flags forward and set them in place at the start of the service. Kathryn Lucariello / Carroll County News

American Legion Pendergrass-Rose Post #36 began services at 9 a.m. at the Veterans Park in Holiday Island. Post Commander Clint Miller gave a brief history of Memorial Day, originally called "Decoration Day," purported to have been started by Southern women wishing to honor their Civil War dead.

He gave several statistics of those killed in combat in several major wars. Along with his figures, a search online reveals these totals: Revolutionary War, 8,000; Civil War, 212,938; World War I, 53,402; World War II, 291,557; Korean War, 33,686; Vietnam, 47,424; War on Terror, 4,977. The grand total of all Americans killed in combat since 1775 numbers 848,163, and those wounded are almost twice that: 1,529,230.

Pastor Stan Adams of the First United Methodist Church in Eureka Springs was the speaker.

"There is a time to every season," he said. "There is a time to mourn. Sometimes we are forced into it. At other times we must choose it."

He quoted David from the Old Testament lament after the fall of Saul and Jonathan, "How the mighty have fallen."

"Our rituals help us to mourn," Adams said. "Some people ask, 'Why mourn? It won't bring anyone back.' But life is best enjoyed and preserved when lived in gratitude for what it cost."

Gail Babcock asked those who wished to remember their war dead to say their names while she struck a chime, saying her husband's name. He served in Vietnam and died of complications from Agent Orange.

At the American Legion Walker-Wilson Post 9, Eureka Springs Mayor Morris Pate, who served 11 years, said he had had to leave comrades on the battlefield and tell friends and family they weren't coming home.

"They served because they chose to," he said.

Jim Weatherford explained the significance of the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action table set up in front of the podium.

"The table is set for one," he said. "These are members missing from our ranks."

Eureka Springs Mayor Morris Pate gives the address at the American Legion Walker-Wilson Post 9 service Monday. He spoke about his thoughts on looking at the flag and on how veterans and those who died chose to serve. Kathryn Lucariello / Carroll County News

Each item -- the empty chair, the tablecloth, the candle, the red rose, the red ribbon, the slice of lemon, the salt on the plate, the inverted glass -- all have symbolic significance.

"Many may never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice," said Weatherford.

The Holiday Island Singers performed several numbers, including a piece commissioned specifically for them, "We Became the U.S.A." They performed this piece at the Sesquicentennial Commemmoration service at Pea Ridge National Military Park in March.

Chaplain Jack Hill read "In Flanders Fields" by Lt. Col. John McCrae, written in 1915.

The Holiday Island Singers perform "We Became the U.S.A.," written by two Holiday Island residents and commissioned for the group to sing. The group performed several numbers at the Post 9 service. Kathryn Lucariello / Carroll County News

The Honor Guards of both posts performed a rifle salute.

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