By Casey Peacock: Freedom Newspapers
Members of the American Legion Post 31 will honor fallen veterans and their families during the 61st annual Memorial Day service at 10:30 a.m. Monday under the flagpole at the Portales Cemetery.
The memorial service will last from 45 minutes to an hour, said post commander Joe Blair.
“They (veterans) deserve the honor we bestow on them and we do the program for them,” Blair said.
According to Blair, Memorial Day is a day for honoring deceased veterans and their families.
Memorial Day was started by women in Columbus, Miss. in April of 1863. The women placed spring flowers upon the graves of their own Confederate fallen dead as well as upon two Union soldiers’ graves that were in the cemetery. The holiday became official on May 30, 1868, under the direction of Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, according to information furnished by Blair.
During the Memorial Day service, Donald Paschke will perform the National Anthem, something he has done during the service for the past 45 years. Don Criss will read the Memorial Day reading, which he has done for 15 years, Blair said.
During the program, a tribute will also be held to honor Gold Star mothers. The two mothers, Lila Bryant and Mytrice Smith, both lost sons in the Vietnam War, Blair said.
“We like to work our program around the two Gold Star mothers,” Blair said.
Col. Mark J. LaRose, commander of the 27th Maintenance Group, 27th Fighter Wing, at Cannon Air Force Base, will give the Memorial Day address. This will be followed by the tribute to Gold Star mothers and the laying of the wreath, Blair said.
“We think it’s important that these fallen comrades should be honored, they have sacrificed,” Blair said. “It’s a terrible thing. Veterans nowadays don’t get enough recognition and we’re going to carry on this tradition (of honoring) forever.”