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Honoring America's fallen warriors

Special to the Courier

Courtesy photo
A member of The Old Guard places an American Flag on the grave of a fallen comrade at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.

To commemorate Memorial Day, members of Bandera American Legion Post 157 will host a special program from 1 pm to 2 pm, Sunday, May 31, on the lawn of the Bandera County Courthouse.
The entire community is encouraged to attend and pay tribute to family members and friends who have passed away by stating their names and placing symbolic poppies on a special wreath.
Memorial Day was inaugurated on May 5, 1868, by members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Then called Decoration Day, it was deemed a national day for decorating the graves of the Civil War soldiers with flowers. Arlington National Cemetery became the site of the first large-scale observance of the day.
The cemetery was particularly appropriate as over 20,000 Union dead and several hundred Confederate dead were interred there. Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant presided at the first observance against the backdrop of the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, the former home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Speeches were followed by soldiers' children and orphans and members of the GAR marching through the cemetery and strewing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Prayers were recited and hymns sung for the dead.
Honoring America's dead servicemen and women continues at the site to this day. Each year, prior to Memorial Day, soldiers of the 3rd United States Infantry - known as The Old Guard - assemble at Arlington National Cemetery to perform a distinguished task of reverence and respect to comrades who have fallen in all wars. Soldiers place American flags, one foot and centered, in front of the gravestones of every service member buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Known as "flags-in," this act has taken place since 1948 when The Old Guard was appointed as the ceremonial unit for the US Army. During the Memorial Day weekend, members of The Old Guard patrol the cemetery, ensuring each gravesite remains decorated and honored with an American Flag.
This year, 256,000 flags were placed at headstones.
Issuing an open invitation to the community, a spokesman for Legion Post 157 urged, "Please join us on Sunday, May 31, to honor the memories of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the enduring freedoms of this country."