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Rotarians hear program on Memorial Day project

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Flags Flying 052820The flags at Magnolia Cemetery last year. TCB file photo

By Mollie LaSalle
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WOODVILLE – Last Wednesday, the Rotary Club of Woodville reeived some history and an update on its annual Memorial Day flag project.

Rotarian Chris Edwards brought the program for the club’s noon meeting at the Pickett House.

He spoke about the project, as well as the history and meaning of Memorial Day.

Edwards began his program referencing what a quote from fellow Rotarian Fred Sullivan from two weeks prior: “We Are Just Beginning to Serve”. Sullivan spoke on the long history of the club in Woodville and the many service projects they are involved in throughout the year.

The Memorial Day Flag Project at Magnolia Cemetery is the club’s next service project. “Our club has been blessed to be a part of this for six years”, Edwards said. The club places around 400 flags on the graves of every veteran. Magnolia Cemetery was established in 1845, and there are graves from every single war represented. There are several Civil War graves, a lot from WWI and WWII, and interestingly, there is also a grave from the War of 1812.

Memorial Day had its beginnings as “Decoration Day” back in 1868. The date was always May 30, up until 1970, when it was set as the last Monday in May. It is a day to celebrate and commemorate all those who died in service to our country. Veterans Day, formerly known as “Armistice Day”, began when major hostilities were formally signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

  Edwards gave the history of Memorial Day, as well as spoke about the difference between it and Veterans Day, which he said is often confused by many people.

Whereas Memorial Day is a different date every year, Veterans Day is always November 11. In 1949, “Armed Forces Day” was established, to take the place of the individual days for each branch of the service. Armed Forces Day is celebrated the third Saturday in May.

Edwards closed out the program with a reading of the poem “Bivouac of the Dead” by Theodore O’Hara. O’Hara. O’Hara wrote it to honor fellow soldiers from Kentucky who died in the Mexican-American War in 1846. Verses of the poem are featured in various cemeteries across the United States. A marker in Arlington National Cemetery contains the verse “On fames eternal camping ground, their silent tents are spread, and glory guards with solemn round the bivouac of the dead.”

Mark your calendar to drive by the Magnolia Cemetery after the flags have been put out. It is a sight to see, and a wonderful photo opportunity.

The club will place the flags May 25 and take them back up Tuesday, May 30.

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