WE GIVE THANKS
Thoughts of Memorial Day bring a rush of patriotic sentiment and an overflowing of appreciation for those who have fought and died to protect our country and to end wars.
Memorial Day this year will be observed on May 29. The traditional date of May 30 has given way to the modern practice of floating holidays to Mondays to provide long weekends adapted more to recreation and sales promotions than to serious observations of the reasons for these special holidays.
Memorial Day began as a way to honor the dead of the Civil War. Some sources trace the beginning to four women in Columbus, Mississippi, who wanted to commemorate the deaths of their husbands in the Civil War. Reportedly, on April 26, 1866, these women decorated graves in Friendship Cemetery at Columbus—first the graves of the Confederate dead and then, to the amazement and chagrin of many southern patriots, went on to decorate the graves of the Union soldiers in that cemetery. Other communities make similar claims with similar stories, with Waterloo, New York, being the location recognized by the United States Government (in May 1966). The first official recognition of Memorial Day (then called "Decoration Day") was General Order No. 11, issued on May 5, 1868, by General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Last year Don and I attended a very meaningful Memorial Day Recognition Ceremony presented by the American Legion Chapter 55, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Dan Jackson Post 3978, and the Disabled American Veterans Darrell J. DePriest Post 48. Our hearts were stirred by all parts of the service including the presentation of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and an a cappella singing of the national anthem by Dr. Leland Fox. I noticed a young lady near me unashamedly wiping tears from her eyes as he sang. [As Dr. Fox recited "In Flanders Fields,’ I was reminded of the elderly gentleman in Amite County, a veteran of World War I, to whose recitation of this poem on more than one occasion I have listened spellbound. He stood, though stooped by health and age, proudly and profoundly reciting completely from memory.]
Honored at the Memorial Service were seventy-nine Lafayette County veterans who died between May 25, 1998, and May 31, 1999, including the last-known Lafayette County World War I veteran Colie Glass. The service ended effectively with the beauty of Taps, played by Dr. Andrew Fox and Dr. John McCauley. The clear tones of the brass instruments left us for a moment speechless. An unknown author has added lovely words to Taps: "Day is done, gone the sun, From the lake, from the hills, from the sky. Safely rest, All is well! God is nigh." After the service, flags were made available for placement on graves of veterans. Don and I took flags to Kingdom Cemetery for my brother Jim and for my Uncle Reese Houston. We came back to Clear Creek and put a flag on the grave of our dear friend Aubrey Briscoe. I was disappointed at both cemeteries that more flags had not been placed. Details on this year’s Memorial Day service by the Lafayette County veterans’ groups will be forthcoming in local publicity, and I recommend it to you for observance of the true intent of Memorial Day.
I can trace my depth of feeling for our flag back to when I learned to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a young school child at Delay School. I have gained further understanding and appreciation for the flag in Star Spangled Banner: Our Nation and Its Flag, by Margaret Sedeen, a book beautifully prepared by the Book Division of the National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. The pictures—many reproductions of familiar photographs and paintings— are wonderful and inspiring and the text includes many interesting aspects of the history of our country, with special references to the flag. In the Introduction of the book, I find this wonderful phrase about the flag: "The flag is the single symbol that bonds the diverse United States. It stands for the land and the people, the government, and the nation’s ideals. It embodies the heroism of Americans both famous and anonymous, our identify as a people, our dreams of the future."
We proudly fly the American flag and the State of Mississippi flag on a lighted flag pole in our yard. Our neighbors have commented that seeing the flags is meaningful to them especially at night as they drive by. We try to observe correct flag etiquette and we keep replacements for the 2 flags readily available, for it bothers me greatly to see a worn, faded, neglected flag.
During my years of involvement in Vacation Bible School, I liked seeing and hearing the children give their pledges of allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. Even now on parents’ nights I continue to be impressed as those chosen to make the presentations proudly step forward. We like to see the flags on display in the sanctuary at all times, so Don and I gave flags to the church. We presented these in memory and in honor of those who taught our children in Vacation Bible School.
We still have a number of World War II veterans in our church membership at Clear Creek. Among these is A. T Bunch, who spent time as a prisoner of war in Europe. In times of war, the flag has given courage and inspiration to those on the battlefields and at home.
How wonderful that a day has been designated to commemorate the sacrifices of those who have served our country. To those who made the supreme sacrifice, we owe an unpayable debt. We are grateful also to those whose lives were changed by the time they served, the wounds they received, the stress they endured. Some left their homes as carefree, often very young, men and returned with life-long handicaps or to spend their remaining days confined to hospitals. Because of them, we can be free to enjoy the bounties of the country they fought to save. Through them, God has blessed us immeasurably. It is impossible for us to express adequately our gratitude to these, but let us try on this Memorial Day.
Fund Drive/Balloon Release For WWII National Memorial
Waller Funeral Home will be playing a vital role in a nationwide effort by the National Funeral Directors Association to raise $5 million of the $100 million needed to provide a long overdue tribute to the individual Americans who helped win World War II. Assisting in this effort will be local veterans’ organizations. Representing those organizations as co-captains of this effort are H. C. Franklin, Disabled American Veterans (Darrell J. DePriest Post 48); Charles Treas, American Legion (Chapter 55); and John Swain, Veterans of Foreign Wars (Dan Jackson Post 3978).
In 1993 Congress tasked the American Battle Monuments Commission with raising funds for, and constructing a National World War II Memorial. About $75 million of the $100 million required to build the memorial has been raised through individual and corporate contributions and sponsorships. The impressive and beautiful memorial, to be built on a prominent 7.4-acre site between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, will honor the veterans who bravely fought to defend freedom, those on the home front who contributed to the war effort, and the high moral purpose that motivated the nation’s call to arms. Never before or since World War II has our country shared such a common bond of purpose and determination.
Over 16 million served in uniform and many more supported the war effort at home, earning for themselves the designation of The Greatest Generation. This will be the first national memorial acknowledging the commitment and achievement of the entire nation.
The memorial will include a special "Registry of Remembrances" that will list the names and military units of veterans together with anyone back home who made a significant effort to help win the war, such as participating in a metal or rubber collection drive, rolling and packing bandages, serving coffee and cookies to a troop train, or working in an airplane factory.
Communities nationwide are planning colorful balloon releases to raise funds and to provide visibility for this effort. A balloon release in Oxford is being planned in connection with the annual 4th of July celebration. It will be on The Square immediately before the parade.
A $10 gift to the World War II Memorial Fund of the American Battle Monuments Commission will entitle the donor to a commemorative red, white, or blue balloon. (The balloons are biodegradable—more biodegradable than an oak leaf—and have been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.) The name of the person remembered can be written on the balloon after it is inflated on the day of the balloon release. In some cases the family or individual may want to release the balloon themselves, in others, the balloon is held by the funeral home for the day of the balloon release.
Let us know and we will send you forms. Checks should be made payable to the World War II Memorial Fund, a tax-exempt charity recognized by the IRS.
Please mail (P. 0. Box 1200, Oxford, MS 38655) or bring enrollment forms and contributions to Waller Funeral Home. We will forward them collectively to the Monuments Commission. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at the funeral home (234-7971).
Let’s fill the skies of Oxford with colorful balloons during the 4th of July celebration and help build a monument so future generations will never forget the sacrifices that America’s World War II generation made so that we can enjoy the benefits of freedom.
THE HISTORY OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG
In honor of the Columbus quadri-centennial, the Boston-based children’s weekly, The Youth’s Companion, published a few words on September 8, 1892, for students to repeat on Columbus Day that year: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all."
Controversy surrounded the question of who actually wrote the original pledge, with claims made by descendants of James Upham and Francis Bellamy, both former magazine employees. It took a committee of the U. S. Flag Association to determine once and for all in 1939 that Bellamy, the circulation manager and a native of Rome, New York, had indeed written the lines.
Reprinted on thousands of leaflets, the pledge went out to public schools across the country. On October 12, 1892, more than 12 million children marked the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival by reciting for the first time a pledge of allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, in all its unstandardized glory, instituting what would become a required school-day ritual in many states.
On June 14, 1923, at the first National Flag Conference in Washington, D.C., an editorial change was made. The words "the flag of the United States" replaced "my flag," conferees reasoning that this would keep immigrants from drifting to thoughts of their native colors when they recited the pledge.
In June 1943, one year after the Pledge of Allegiance was officially recognized by Congress, the Supreme Court ruled that schoolchildren could not be forced to recite it. A last amendment was made in June 1954, when the words "under God" were added. "In this way," said then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, "we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war."
—Margaret Sedeen, Star-Spangled Banner: Our Nation and Its Flag,prepared by the Book Division, National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.,1993, pages 176-177.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
Canadian physician, soldier, and poet John McCrae (1872-1918) published in 1915 this famous poem about the Allied dead buried in Belgium. It reminds us that others’ self-sacrifice is one reason for loyalty to cause.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
ROCKY KENNEDY RECUPERATES
In the last issue of Seasons we introduced our newest employee, Rocky Kennedy. At that time Rocky was settling comfortably into his home in Oxford and his work here at Waller Funeral Home. Many of you have heard that on March 12 Rocky was involved in a serious car accident. Rocky’s neck was broken and he had various other injuries. We were devastated to learn of the seriousness of his condition. We have watched his recovery with concern and sympathy, and many of our friends and patrons have inquired about his condition.
We are pleased to report that Rocky is making steady progress to a complete recovery. After a hospital stay, Rocky has recuperated in Oxford. He is still wearing a "halo" as his neck continues to heal, but he has been able to work some at the Funeral Home and he is hoping, and we are hoping, that he will be back at work full-time soon— maybe in June.
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 10, 2000, through May 9, 2000.
Mrs. Corrie Dennis Quarles / February 10, 2000
Mrs. Mary Hume Kelton / February 14, 2000
Mrs. Katie Ludell Onsby / February 17, 2000
Mr. Bolivar B. "Bolly" Bowen, IV / February 17, 2000
Mrs. Maria DiMezza Bosco / February 18. 2000
Mr. R. D. "Dick" Weaver / February 20, 2000
Mr. William Wiley Preston / March 2, 2000
Mrs. Vida White Reynolds / March 6, 2000
Mrs. Rebecca Blasingame O’Hara / March 9, 2000
Mr. Robert A. Linder / March 11, 2000
Mrs. Burnie Deane Faust Knight / March 19, 2000
Mr. Steve Brown Waits / March 23, 2000
Mrs. Robye Ella "R. E." Owens / March 30, 2000
Mr. Harry Wayne Tabor / March 31, 2000
Mr. Walker Beck Hill / March 31, 2000
Mrs. Inez Houpt Harwell / April 2, 2000
Mrs. Luna Barie Hale / April 2, 2000
Mrs. Lillie Overstreet Foust / April 6, 2000
Mrs. Ardis Long Holcomb / April 12, 2000
Mrs. Ray Mathis Davis / April 13, 2000
Mrs. Ann Monteith Callaway / April 17, 2000
Mrs. Barbara "Bobbie" Maples / April 17, 2000
Mrs. Mary Hartsfield Greene / April 18, 2000
Mrs. Mary Lou Jordan Goolsby / April 24, 2000
Mrs. Ollie McLarty Potts / April 25, 2000
Mrs. Dovie Dickey Conner / April 28, 2000
Mrs. Evelyn Neal Ramzy / April 28, 2000
Mr. James Timothy "Tim" King / April 29, 2000
Mr. Earnest Clayton "Tude" Ransom / April 29, 2000
Mrs. Lois Hazel Jones / May 1, 2000
Mr. William Ellis "EW." Jenkins / May 4, 2000
Mrs Eulalie Crawford "Leah" Adams / May 6, 2000
Mr. Danny Lynn Oliphant / May 6, 2000
Mr. Timothy Francis Grose / May 9, 2000