Paying Memorial Day respects
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.