THERE’S A CERTAIN SENSE of comfort in tradition. For nearly 100 years, folks have gathered each Memorial Day at the Cannon City Cemetery to honor our veterans.
In the shade of spruce and cedar trees and surrounded by gravestones, I listened to natives read The Gettysburg Address, Freedom, What Heroes Gave and more; recite In Flanders Fields; and recall the history of this celebration. A Civil War veteran initially asked students from the village school to put on a Memorial Day program. In those early years, pupils marched from the school to the cemetery bearing floral wreaths. Today the cemetery board organizes this annual observance.
We sang patriotic songs like The Star Spangled Banner, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and America the Beautiful, some accompanied by a guitar, some not. Voices rose 40-plus strong above the shrill of a cardinal and the distant muffle of gunfire. Sun shone. Breeze rippled.
The Cannon City Cemetery offers an ideal setting for a grassroots remembrance of those who have served our country. Therein lies its appeal to me.
I have no connection to this place where nearly 50 veterans are buried. But this ceremony reminds me of the Memorial Day programs of my youth. As an aging senior recited In Flanders Fields, I mouthed the words I recited so many years ago on the stage of the Vesta Community Hall.
In its peaceful location among farm fields, this cemetery reminds me of home. Of tradition.
And when taps sounded, I was reminded, too, of just how much some sacrificed so that I could stand here, in this cemetery, on Memorial Day, hand across heart reciting The Pledge of Allegiance.
FYI: Next year the Cannon City Cemetery turns 150 years old. Plans are already underway for a special celebration to mark the occasion. If you want to experience grassroots Americana on Memorial Day, this is the place to be.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling