Pay­ing Me­mo­rial Day re­spects

Record Observer - - Opinion -

On Mon­day, I made my an­nual Me­mo­rial Day trip up to Church Hill Ceme­tery to pay my re­spects again to my class­mate and friend, John Val­liant, who is buried in the fam­ily plot up there. When Woody Wood­ford was still liv­ing, we used to make the trip to­gether, but now I make it alone. There are not too many of us World War II vet­er­ans still around.

John and I went into the Army about the same time: I was sent to Camp Lee, Va., by the mil­i­tary and John was shipped out to France where he was killed by a sniper just eight days be­fore his 20th birth­day on Oct. 28, 1944.

The Church Hill Ceme­tery is a quiet spot. I did not see an­other soul and only a few birds chirp­ing in the trees. I also walked over to the grave of Jef­fer­son Davis, who was the first county man killed in WWI, and for whom the Amer­i­can Le­gion post in Cen­tre­ville is named. We (the Post mem­bers) used to hold a ser­vice by his gravesite ev­ery Me­mo­rial Day, but I guess that has gone by the way­side. I re­turned to Cen­tre­ville and stopped at the Court­house green to pay my re­spects at the vet­er­ans mon­u­ment, where John Val­liant’s name is etched as killed in ac­tion. A flower was laid over one of the names on plaques sur­round­ing the mon­u­ment, so I guess some­one else had paid their re­spects on this Me­mo­rial Day. A beau­ti­ful wreath was stand­ing near the mon­u­ment, but I do not know who put it there or when, as I saw it there a few days prior to Me­mo­rial Day.

It is a shame we have come to a po­si­tion of not hold­ing a ser­vice here on Me­mo­rial Day. I am not a mem­ber of the VFW and I un­der­stand they had a ser­vice hon­or­ing the war dead. I should have made an ef­fort to check with my cross-the-street neigh­bor, Dickie Coursey, a for­mer VFW com­man­der, be­fore I sat down here to write this weekly visit with my reader-friends.

••• UN­USUAL VIS­I­TORS The June page of the unique cal­en­dar Bill Lamp­man put to­gether for the Mu­seum of East­ern Shore life at the 4-H Park, and pre­sented me a copy, had a most in­ter­est­ing pic­ture with cap­tion. I can­not re­mem­ber where, but do re­call see­ing the photograph some­where be­fore.

Any­way, Bill has it on the June page show­ing a lot of peo­ple gath­ered around a bi-plane that was flown by two naval avi­a­tors from An­napo­lis, Lts. T. Gor­don Ellyson and John H. Tow­ers. It was a Cur­tis Hy­dro aero­plane that landed at Cen­tre­ville Land­ing (the wharf) on June 23, 1915, at 9:30 a.m. It was said to be one of two owned by the Navy with a speed ca­pac­ity of 60 miles per hour. The avi­a­tors were met at the Land­ing and taken to the home of Wil­liam McKen­ney where they were en­ter­tained for lun­cheon.

I will con­tinue to de­scribe this cal­en­dar dur­ing the year, as it is mighty un­usual. If I miss a month, please re­mind me as it de­serves to be rec­og­nized.

••• ERNIE PYLE’S BOOK The ladies in the Li­brary were able to lo­cate Ernie Pyle’s book, “Home Coun­try,” at Enoch Pratt Li­brary and get it for me through the In­ter Li­brary Loan sys­tem. It is very in­ter­est­ing and I hope I can fin­ish it be­fore it is due back by June 21.

I love Ernie’s writ­ings, he writes in first-per­son and loves to de­scribe peo­ple and places he met while he drove across the coun­try in 1930 with his wife, stop­ping at many places along the way.

Ernie has an easy-read­ing style as I know any­one who has read his books will agree. They just don’t make au­thors like Ernie Pyle any­more.

••• HOW MANY? Did you see that note in Pa­rade mag­a­zine the other Sun­day about ham­burg­ers?

It said the Amer­i­can pub­lic downs 50 bil­lion a year! Now that is a lot of ham­burg­ers. I’m not sure I eat my share of them, but do pick up one ever y one in a while at Hardee’s.

••• SEE YOU ON JUNE 10 One more re­minder that I am look­ing for­ward to June 10 when I plan on sell­ing raf­fle tick­ets for the Paul Reed Smith beau­ti­ful gui­tar he has given the Lions Club for their 36th an­nual Bay Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at the 4-H Park, with gates open­ing at 1 p.m. It’s go­ing to be a grand af­fair — be sure to bring the whole fam­ily as we have plenty of young peo­ple’s ac­tiv­i­ties also.

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