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Memorial Day flags are back in Bandera

By Susan Junker BC Contributor

“Several local non-profit organizations realized that we had been failing our local citizens – especially our veterans – by not demonstrating the meaning of Memorial Day,” said Bandera County Veterans Service Officer Dennis Birchall.
To remedy the situation, Bandera American Legion Post 157 and the Kiwanis Builders Club have united this year to place flags on the graves of veterans at the Bandera Cemetery on Highway 173 North. Everyone is welcome to participate, starting at 8:50 am, Monday, May 23. Flags will be provided and visitors are welcome.
In addition, the Bandera American Legion and veterans and members of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church will place flags on the graves at both their cemeteries, beginning at 9 am, Friday, May 27.
Don Ritter, a member of both organizations, will lead the effort. “As a new citizen of the Bandera community, it is a privilege to participate in recognizing those who gave of themselves, and often sacrificed all, in the name of freedom. This is a must-do to remember those who served before me.”
So, why is Memorial Day such a solemn event and why are veterans’ graves remembered with flags? Although it now seems just a trip to the lake or a backyard cookout holiday, it is correctly a day for “Decoration” of graves with flowers, wreaths and flags to remember those who died in service to their country. It is a solemn remembrance of sacrifice and paying the ultimate sacrifice for nation, community and family.
Decoration Day was initially observed just after the Civil War and by proclamation on May 30, 1868. Over the ensuing years and wars, it became an day to recognize those who died in all of America’s wars. Memorial Day was formally established as a national holiday in 1971. There are also several southern states, to include Texas, that honor the Confederate War dead. In Texas, the Confederate Memorial Day is January 19.
Bandera has graves of veterans from all wars since the Civil War in her cemeteries. The May 30, 1884 speech by Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Civil War veteran – and later Supreme Court Justice for 30 years – remains relevant.
“So, to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms … a national act of enthusiasm and faith … To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might…” America’s veterans and those currently in the military believe in the Constitution and democracy with all their “might” and deserve the gratitude and respect of everyone enjoying the American way of life.
For more information, call the Bandera American Legion at 830-796-7528 or the Bandera Veterans Service Officer at 830-460-1643.