In memory of our veterans

Memorial Day events planned to honor servicemen, servicewomen


Spc. Valden McFarland never went to war or was sent far away from home during his two years in the Army, from 1961 to 1963.

But McFarland, who died in June, will be remembered this Memorial Day weekend with about 600 servicemen and servicewomen who are buried in the Craig Cemetery.

"We'll go to the cemetery and listen when they call off the names," said Valerie McFarland, Valden's widow.

"It's basically there for the families. It makes it easier for when you can see friends and laugh a little bit."

A host of events are scheduled this weekend to remember American servicemen. Some meals will be provided for World War II veterans and their spouses.

A prayer breakfast at the American Legion Post 62 will kick off the activities Saturday.

It will be followed at noon by a televised viewing of the National World War II Monument dedication in Washington, D.C.

World War II veterans and their spouses will be served lunch at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 and issued certificates for their service.

"This is more than just a day off," Veterans Service Officer Bill Harding said.

"If it wasn't for this generation (of World War II veterans) we wouldn't have what we have today."

There are about 60 living World War II vets in Craig, and about 140 of their surviving spouses.

This Memorial Day weekend is poignant for many of the World War II veterans who have been waiting years for a national monument to honor the 16 million soldiers who served in the war, Harding said.

Many of Craig's World War II veterans are dying of old age and didn't think they'd be around to witness the event, he said.

"I expect we'll see some moist eyes," Harding said.

After Saturday's morning festivities, World War II veterans and their spouses are invited to ride along in the Grand Ole West Days parade that winds through downtown Craig.

Transportation will be provided for veterans who are attending activities at the VFW.

Sunday morning at 7:30, volunteers are asked to help place American flags on veterans' graves at the Craig Cemetery.

Monday at 11 a.m. kicks off memorial services at the Craig Cemetery.

At 5 p.m., memorial services will be held at Maybell Cemetery with a special dedication to former Craig resident Pfc. Chance Phelps.

Phelps was killed during fighting last month in Iraq.

Volunteers are needed to retire the flags before sunset at 7: 30 p.m.

"Basically we're asking the community to come out and show support for our veterans," Harding said.

"Maybe you don't agree with (John) Kerry or (President George) Bush but we have to come out and support our troops."

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