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Lois J. Stoffle: Heroes

Lois Stoffle/For the Craig Daily Press
American flag
John F. Russell

Editor’s note: Lois J. Stoffle, of Craig, wrote the following story for her Memoirs Class on June 14, 2012. She shared it with the newspaper for publication on Memorial Day.

Editor’s note: Lois J. Stoffle, of Craig, wrote the following story for her Memoirs Class on June 14, 2012. She shared it with the newspaper for publication on Memorial Day.

The year was 2012. The town of Maybell was slowly getting ready for Memorial Day. To some it’s a holiday, time off of the work week. To some it’s a holiday, time for picnics, family gatherings and fun. To some it’s a holiday weekend in Moffat County, Craig, in particular, called “Grand Old West Days” filled with all sorts of activities for residents and tourists alike. And to some, it’s a time of reflection and remembering what the Holiday is really all about. But in Maybell, the week before Memorial Day, is a time for activity of the work sort preparing for our Memorial Services.

The Boy Scouts of Troop 172 were hard at work in the cemetery, mowing the weeds and grass and trimming around the graves. They hauled off refuse that had blown into the cemetery from the nearby dumpsters. They gathered the broken limbs from the trees damaged from the winds. The boys, their parents and leaders were busy but very respectful of the job they were doing.

After the Scouts were finished with their work, it was time for the Maybell Women’s Club to begin theirs. The white metal crosses on each gravesite needed to be straightened up and the old artificial silk flowers removed from them. The club purchased new flowers for all of the graves and little American flags for the veterans’ graves. I happened to be babysitting for our three, almost four year old Great-Grandson, Haven, on Wednesday, May 23. I figured he could assist me in replacing the flowers and flags. We loaded up my little truck with my wheelbarrow, some wire cutters, zip ties, the flowers, flags and garbage sacks, and took off for the cemetery. Haven helped unload everything into the wheelbarrow and we opened the gate and got busy. He’s not much of a hand at pushing a wheelbarrow, as he dumped it twice before he “allowed” me to help navigate it down the rows of graves. He wanted to know why we were going to put new flowers on the crosses, so I explained that dead people were buried here and it was nice to put something pretty on their graves so people could find the right ones and pray for them. That seemed to work for him so I showed him how to use the wire cutters and he set off to the first grave with the cutters in his back pocket. He knelt by the white cross, reached into his pocket, got the cutters out and proceeded to cut the old zip tie lose.

Then he put the cutters back into his pocket and pulled the old flowers out of the bracket. Next, he walked back where I was working (doing the same thing) and set the old flowers and zip tie pieces in to our garbage sack. Off he went to the next grave, walking like a little old man in his stocking cap and jeans jacket (it was cool and windy that day) and knelt down, reached for his cutters and went to work again. This he repeated maybe 20 or 25 times. He was so busy! When we finished one section, I would put the new flowers, that Haven picked out, on the crosses with new zip ties that he would hand me. When I looked at my list of veterans, we started to place the flags. Haven wanted to know why we were putting American flags on some of the graves but not all of them. So once again, I explained to him that some of the dead people had been soldiers in the Army, or sailors in the Navy or in the Marines or Air Force. This was a way that we could show them respect for all they did for our country. “Oh” he replied. I said that they were heroes because of all that they did for us, fighting to keep us free. “Like the war on TV?” he asked. “Sort of, I said, but they were fighting for us.” Then they are our Super Heroes,” he said.

Well, our Memorial Day service was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday. The townspeople began to gather early, some bringing their lawn chairs for comfort, others visiting grave sites before the ceremony would begin. The representatives of the American Legion and the VFW arrived all crisp and starched. They had their bugler and their rifles with them. How impressive they all looked in their uniforms as they took their positions. The Boy Scouts had raised the American and the POW flags and stood at attention with their leaders. The Maybell Community Bible Church pastor, and the Church choir with their organist, Mrs. Morris arrived.

Promptly at 2 p.m., Reverend Linda Taylor began the service with a prayer and a short reading. The chaplin representative of the Armed Forces read the names of the veterans buried in our Maybell Cemetery; there was a 21 gun salute; the bugler played “Taps;” the church choir, and their select group “The Anchor” sang several hymns; and all who had gathered for the ceremony, joined the choir in singing several Patriotic hymns. It was a moving tribute to all of our Armed Forces, living and deceased. Tears were being wiped from many eyes as the singing signaled the end of the service.

As some folks went to visit gravesites and other began to visit among themselves, the Maybell Women’s Club offered all present some lemonade and some of the “Best of the Best” cookies made by our wonderful ladies of the community. The gentlemen of the VFW and the American Legion always look forward to the treats that the ladies provide.

We had a day of sunshine, a breeze to wave Old Glory, and a wonderful service honoring our fallen, but not forgotten SUPER HEROES.


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