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Memorial Day Traditions

1187 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  scuba_steve
What cool traditions do you all have to honor your deceased, and especially those who served their country?

We come down to Beaver, Utah every year, where my family goes back about five generations to Charles William Willden, the first of the Willden clan to come to the US from England, arriving in Utah in 1849. The cemetery is full of my ancestors, so we come decorate their graves every year.

The coolest thing about this, though, is a Beaver Memorial Day tradition: flags for veterans. Every veteran of the US armed forces buried in the Beaver cemetery is authorized to have a full-sized flagpole placed next to their grave, and to fly a full-sized, period-appropriate flag from the pole on Memorial Day. Given the extensive tradition of military service in the rural Utah south, this means that the cemetery on Memorial Day flies hundreds of US flags. You can find every version of the US flag as it has been for the last 150 years or so.

So, just about sunrise each Memorial Day morning, hundreds of people show up at the Beaver Cemetery to raise the flags over the graves of their deceased veterans -- some of whom lost their lives in battle.

I go out with my dad and put up a half-dozen flags. The oldest is my great great grandfather, Feargus O'Connor Willden, who was a private in the Mormon Battalion and a sergeant in the Utah Indian Wars.

It's a great patriotic family tradition that I look forward to every year. This year it's particularly poignant because of my younger brother. He's a full-time Utah Army National Guardsman, and loves this tradition so much that he often wears his dress uniform for it. This morning, though, we missed him because he's in Afghanistan, stationed 15 miles from the Taliban-controlled Pakistan border.

Here are some pictures I've taken of the Beaver cemetery in past years. They're all hyperlinked to larger versions. Check out the panoramas.

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That's a great tradition! Those are some great photos.
Thank you for sharing that!

We don't do anything quite so extensive. We put flowers on the graves of loved ones. Then, we usually will have a barbecue later in the day.
Wow! That is amazing, what a tradition! Where exactly is this cemetary? Are there opportunities for volunteers to assist with this tradition? I would be proud to don my service Dress to pay the respect that these Veterans deserve. Please let me know I am really interested in helping and I bet I can find quite a few more GI's who would help also. I can remember, when I was a young Boy scout placing smaller flags on the headstones of Veterans at the VA cemetary in Leavenworth, Kansas. I didn't understand it then but definently do now! It is truly amazing that each headstone represents a families loss yet so much pride at the same time. I just looked it up and as of FY 07 there are 32,550 internments. :patriot:
scuba_steve said:
Wow! That is amazing, what a tradition! Where exactly is this cemetary? Are there opportunities for volunteers to assist with this tradition?
It's the Mountain View Cemetery, in Beaver, Utah, about 230 miles from Clinton :)

As for volunteer opportunities, I don't think so. It's all done by the town, and by the families of the deceased. However, if you're ever passing through southern Utah on Memorial Day, it's well worth stopping by. It's a very impressive sight, and a powerful tribute to our veterans.
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