Saturday, May 26, 2012
To prepare for Memorial Day, more than 1,500 American flags were placed on the graves of veterans in cemeteries throughout Callaway County by American Legion Post 210 of Fulton.
David Beaver, post commander, told Callaway County residents gathered Saturday at Callaway Memorial Gardens that the tradition of placing flags on the graves of veterans started about the time Callaway Memorial Gardens opened in the 1950s.
Over the years several post members made sure the flags were positioned each year.
In 1999 Beaver, a Vietnam War veteran, and his family assumed responsibility for placing the flags on graves of veterans.
“We now place flags on graves of veterans in three cemeteries in Fulton. Alan Nelson and his family take care of the flag placement at Hillcrest Cemetery. Pete Boswell takes care of Southwest Cemetery. We may miss a few. But it isn’t intentional. We place about 1,000 flags on cemeteries in Fulton,” Beaver said.
“Altogether, we have placed flags on graves of about 1,500 veterans throughout Callaway County. If anyone knows of a cemetery in Callaway County that is not receiving flags on graves of veterans, please call me. We will furnish flags for the grave of any Callaway County veteran,” Beaver said.
Beaver said it takes he and his family about nine hours to complete the task. “I do it,” he said, “because I get a good feeling when I finish that I have honored a lot of loyal Americans who served their country.”
“A friend of mine in Iowa,” Beaver told the audience at the Memorial Day observance, “said every veteran wrote a check to the United States for service up to and including their life. We need to educate the younger generation in what that means.”
During Saturday’s Memorial Day observance, Rev. Murray Buschert, retired associate pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fulton, discussed the history of the holiday.
“Originally it was known as Decoration Day in the United States when it started shortly after the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971. It is often recognized now as the beginning of summer,” Buschert said.
Memorial Day, he said, is observed to honor those who died fighting for the freedom of Americans.
“Since 1775, a total of 1,300,000 Americans have died defending their country,” Buschert said.