For some reason, the William I. Huyett grave is missing a flag as of 10:00 this morning, although much of Charles Evans cemetery is decorated today, Memorial Day 2011.
A ceremony is held. Not including the participants, about 50 people attend. We pray and pledge, salute and sing. My favorite part is announced by the chairman of the Berks County Combined Veterans Council.
“We will now do the strewing of the flowers,” he says.
The band strikes up Faith of Our Fathers. Six women, each with a bunch of loose spring flowers and greens, place some stems and fronds at the stone markers in three semicircular rows. I count two ladies per row; they enter from the end points and meet in the middle.
Lt. Colonel Robert Winters of Exeter township gives the keynote speech. There is special emphasis on the names of some he knew from the Viet Nam era, “men and women who will never grow old.”
The ceremony includes the placing of the wreaths, including wreaths for the Gold Star Mothers, Disabled Veterans, American Legion and Combined Veterans. We hear a well-projected and well done recitation of the Gettysburg Address. The attendees also hear the reading of General Logans’s May 5 1868 General Order Number 11, calling for the decorating of the graves of servicemen countrywide, each according to the place in which they are found. The order to decorate, of course, preceded the call for the strewing of the flowers.
The words “ultimate sacrifice” are repeated many times as a reminder that we enjoy freedom and liberty at a personal and whole cost. I also hear the “phrase kind and fatherly” used once. In what context escapes me now.
One of the horn players becomes ill and faints during the ceremony. He has put his instrument down on the lawn as the flowers are being strewn. “Taps” is played, with one bugler remote, as a woman calls for emergency aid. I had considered asking someone for a spare flag from the Berks County Combined Veterans Council that serves those who served and change my mind. First, I should make a contribution. There is a flag at home I can bring back later, with flowers.