What began as a gift to Arlington National Cemetery during the 1992 Christmas holiday has become a nationwide drive to “Remember, Honor and Teach” now at more than 1700 cemeteries. On Saturday December 14, Sulphur Springs City Cemetery, Mel Haven Cemetery and Black Oak Cemetery were included in the observance.
A ceremony involving representatives from all branches of the military began at 11am outdoors in front of the Myra Wilson Chapel. Bringing the welcome was Retired Army SSG James Clayton Bounds, who called for presentation and the posting of the colors by local Civil Air Patrol Cadets. Prayer was offered by Dr. Jeff Gravens, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Jade Rowland and the National Anthem sung by Danette Lovelady. A presentation of wreaths for each branch of the military was led by Gold Star/Blue Star Mom Patti Sells. She spoke of the ultimate sacrifice made by her son Tanner Higgins, and of her two other sons currently in military service. A fly-over of two vintage WWII aircraft (a P-51 Mustang and a B-26 Bomber) from the Air Museum in Mt. Pleasant was witnessed by all. Taps was played by Garry Hall, a member of the Marine Corps League. The ceremony was concluded by SSG Bounds, who reminded those gathered of the responsibility of freedom with a quote by former President Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” After being dismissed, attendees went out into the cemeteries to place the wreaths on the marked graves of Veterans. Many families went out together, from grandchildren to grandparents. At each marked grave, the name of the veteran was to be spoken aloud to carry out the mission, “Remember, Honor and Teach”. There are 700 veterans graves within the City Cemetery and Mel Haven Cemetery, and over 70 graves of veterans at Black Oak Cemetery.