American flag

The American flag flaps in wind Thursday morning at the intersection of Kilgore and North Streets downtown. Kilgore, like the entire nation, will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday. There will be a ceremony, as usual, at the U.S. Memorial wall at the park on Harris Street at 9 a.m. Monday, although rain will cancel.

Kilgore veterans are extending a special invitation to anyone who would like to celebrate Memorial Day – and the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Monday, of course, is the United States’ annual celebration for those brave individuals, and there will once again be a program here. It will be held at the U.S. Veterans Memorial at the park on Harris Street, near Stream-Flo softball field and Driller Park.

The program, which will include a speaker, music, honoring of the flag, veterans in attendance and a special recognizing of those who lost their lives for this country, will begin at 9 a.m.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, there will need to be social distancing. The entire community is welcome, but those who attend should bring lawn chairs for themselves, and should keep virus social protocol in effect: about six to seven feet apart.

Rain will cancel, and is in local forecasts for Monday.

Anyone having their own Memorial Day get-together is encouraged to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence in honor of those service men and women who gave their lives for this country.

If anyone knows a name that is not on the memorial that needs to be, please contact John Edney at (903) 987-0289.

For those who can’t be in attendance, if the weather holds off and the ceremony is held, the Kilgore News Herald will have photos and coverage of the ceremony in Wednesday’s print edition, and online at kilgorenewsherald.com.

Memorial Day is more than just another federal holiday where banks, city and county government and the like are closed.

According to history.com (and various other sites, actually), Memorial Day is a holiday designed to honor those who lost their lives while serving the U.S. in the military, and has been observed the last Monday of May each year since it became an actual national holiday in 1971.

It was once called Decoration Day.

Even though it wasn’t an actual national holiday until the early 70’s, roots of Memorial Day go all the way back at least until the late 1860’s, following the conclusion of the Civil War, when families began honoring their military relatives that had been killed in action.

In fact, Waterloo, N.Y. began celebrating Memorial Day back on May 5, 1866, a day that was selected because that’s when locals honored their military and decorated graves there. The U.S. government recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day about 100 years later.

To many, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season: some have cook-outs and use that time to spend with family.

And Kilgore, thanks to Edney and others, has long had a Memorial Day ceremony, and some large cities even take it one step further, holding parades (places like Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.). Many still observe Memorial Day, fittingly, by visiting cemeteries and other monuments and memorial sites. Some wear a red poppy, a tradition that began with this World War I poem:

“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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