American Legion posts hold Memorial Day services
As they do every year, both Western Carroll County American Legion posts gathered on Monday for Memorial Day services.
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."
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 Honor Guards of both posts performed a rifle salute.