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Flags fly for Memorial Day…

Flags fly for Memorial Day in Boise, shown here at historic Morris Hill Cemetery.

The cemetery was busy today with families decorating their loved ones’ graves with flowers and small American flags.

Memorial Day ~ we honor and remember

Today we remember and honor the men and women who served our country through their military commitment. We continue to cherish freedom so many other countries do not enjoy. We are a grateful nation.

(S-R archive photo: Mark and Terri Stiltz pose for a photo on their deck on March 27, with the flag they fly to honor their son Matt Stiltz, who died Nov. 12, 2012, in Afghanistan.)

Looking for The Fallen

Hailie Velasco searches for familiar names on the bricks at the Hayden City Hall during the Hayden Memorial Day observance Monday  She was accompanied by her mother Lindsey Osborn. They were looking for two names in particular, Sgt Nate Beyers and Spc Nicholas W Newby. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)

Hayden — Children tiptoed around Monday morning on the memorial pavers that line the ground in front of Hayden City Hall. Nearby, an older veteran moved slowly along the sidewalk bricks. Like the children, he was head down, reading the names engraved into the walkway, all part of the city's PFC Robert J. Gordon Veterans Memorial Plaza. A man walked over, another leading him to look at a particular brick. “That's me,” he said, smiling. “My wife didn't want to wait.” Then, Jay Lee Lillefloren, Master Gunnery Sgt., United States Marine Corps, moved along, reading the other names around his. His wife, Diana, leaned over the inscription of her husband's name, rank and dates of service, and held a cell phone out to capture an image of it. “It's the first time we've seen it,” she said, before apologizing for the tears on her face/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Did you attend a Memorial Day service yesterday?

Faces of the fallen…

In honor of Memorial Day, the Spokesman-Review has published its “Faces of the Fallen” feature, which you can see here; it shows the faces of the men and women from our region who are part of the 1,084 military personnel who have died in Afghanistan since the fall of 2001 and 4,400 who have died in the Iraq war since March 2003. Links by the pictures take you to the stories behind each one.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Let's try to think of this in terms of baseball.

Think of Memorial Day as first base. Now think of summer as second base.

The question becomes this: How much of a lead-off can you take without getting picked off by back-to-work/school reality?

CPR at the Cemetery

Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory always offers some interesting programs each Memorial Day weekend, coming up May 25, 26 and 27.

This year it's a tribute to veterans with displays and memorabilia, classic cars and musical entertainment all three days in the Heritage Chapel. Plus a brass band concert at 6 p.m. Sunday May 26 in Greenwood Memorial Terrace Cemetery.

But Heritage is also offering free CPR classes, using the hands-only method that recent research says is effective. Some people are too intimidated to perform mouth-to-mouth, so the hope is that the more people who learn the hands-only method, the more people will do CPR in emergencies.

The staff at Heritage had training because people sometimes pass out at memorial services, according to funeral director Paula Davis.

The staff learned so much that they are offering free lessons to members of the public, in partnership with  American Medical Response.

The classes will be offered at every hour on the hour all three days, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.

No need to sign up in advance. Just show up. You could save a life someday because of it.

(S-R File photo of hands-on CPR)

Remember Memorial Day on May 30?

You would have to be almost 50 to remember back before it became one of the Monday holidays.

A 68-year-old thank you

In my Sunday story, Fred Carter, a Royal Air Force servicemen who took a leave here in 1944 and was hosted by two Spokane women, said a big thank you to Spokane for the hospitality 68 years ago. The two women, Eva Hardin and Ada Schaefer, have been dead for decades, but for a week or so, as I lived with their story, they came alive for me.

They seemed like warm, smart, kind and caring women living a nontraditional life here in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s — career women, no spouses, no children. And most of the people who even knew them have died now, too. I thought for sure this morning I'd have phone calls from others who knew the women. But so far, no.

It's one more reminder how fast our lives go. But a good reminder, too, that the good works we do can last much longer in people's hearts and memories.

As Fred, now 85, told me: “They were so welcoming. I just can’t get over it.”

(About the photo: Fred Carter, right, poses with his hosts, Ada Schaefer (seated) and Eva Hardin, along with fellow airman Charlie Abbott. The two Royal Air Force servicemen spent their leave at the women’s home in Spokane in October 1944. Photo courtesy of Fred Carter.)

Family connections

My grandfather served in the military in WWI. At some time after he came home, he needed a job.

He walked into the county offices in Duluth, Minnesota and told the clerk that he was there to apply for a job.

Grandpa was told there were no openings at the time. He replied, “That’s okay. I will just wait here until there is a job.”
He sat in the waiting area all day. He returned the next day and the next day. At the end of the third day, he was told that he was so tenacious, they would find him work.

They did.

He became the first Veterans’ Service Officer in St. Louis County, in Duluth, Minnesota.

Today, his great-grandson (my nephew) left home for his tour of duty in Afghanistan. My heart is filled with gratitude and anxiety.

I only hope that when my nephew comes home, he will have someone like his great-grandfather there to help him, if he needs it.

(S-R archives photo)

Heroes in our midst…


Good morning, Netizens…


The morning's picture: Members of Rolling Thunder salute during the presentation of colors during the annual Rolling Thunder rally on the National Mall ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, Sunday, May 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


Here we are at Memorial Day, and as most of the country salutes our troops from various wars, I could not help but pass on a story handed to me by Marshall Smith, himself a veteran.







Captain Kangaroo passed away on January 23, 2004, at age 76 , which is odd, because he always looked to

be 76. (DOB: 6/27/27) His death reminded me of the following story:


Some people have been a bit offended that the actor, Lee Marvin, is buried in a grave alongside 3 and 4-star generals at Arlington National Cemetery.


His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service (USMC). Nothing else. Here's a guy who was only a famous

movie star who served his time. Why the heck does he rate burial with these guys? Well, following is the amazing answer:

I always liked Lee Marvin, but didn't know the extent of his Corps experiences.


In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine hero.


He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award…the Medal Of Honor!


If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery. The following is a dialog from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” His guest was Lee Marvin…


Johnny said, “Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima… and that during the course of that action, you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded.”


“Yeah, yeah… I got shot square in the bottom and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys getting shot hauling you down. But, Johnny, at Iwo, I served under the bravest man I ever knew…We both got the Cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison.


That dumb guy actually stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. Bullets were flying by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere, and he stood there as the main target of gunfire so he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men's safety was more important than his own life.


That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi, we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me, lying on my belly on the litter and said, “Where'd they get you Lee?” I told him, “Well Bob… if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse!”


Johnny, I'm not lying, Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew. The Sergeant's name is Bob Keeshan.

You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo.”

On another note, there was this wimpy little man on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers (who has now passed away) is another of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he portrayed to our youth.

But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearms and biceps. He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat.


After the war Mr. Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister and therefore a pacifist. Vowing to never harm another human and also dedicating the rest of his life to trying to help lead children on the right path in life… He hid away the tattoos and his past life and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm.


America 's real heroes don't flaunt what they did; they quietly go about their day-to-day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst.


Often, they are the ones you'd least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happened.


Take the time to thank anyone who has fought for our freedom. With encouragement they could be the next Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers!


Send this on. Nothing will happen to you if you don't, but if you do share it, you will be awakening others to what a HERO is made of…


This is something to think about and ponder on Memorial Day.



Memorial Day: White Crosses at Flanders Field

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)

    In a quiet corner of Belgium, tucked into what is now a residential area, behind a low brick wall and evergreen hedge and just beyond an avenue of stately Linden trees, 368 American soldiers are buried at the Flanders Field American Cemetery.

    One of 24 cemeteries outside the United States maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Flanders Field American Cemetery is the only American cemetery in Belgium. It was established on the site of the battlefield where almost 94 years ago, from October 30 to November 11, 1918, the 91st Division fought to liberate Belgium.

    I was there on a raw spring day in April and a cold rain fell on my umbrella as I walked between the rows of white marble crosses. The weather only added to the solemnity of the moment. Coming from Spokane, I took special note of Northwest names: Bernard Meyers and Edward Condon from Washington State, Frank Osborn from Montana. There were others from Idaho and Wyoming, and I wondered if the descendants of any of these men might be my neighbors.

    Sadly, the War to End All Wars was hardly that. Almost a century later we are still in conflict, still living under the threat of war and terror. Men and women continue to die on foreign soil. Supreme sacrifices continue to be made.

    In the elaborate marble chapel at the Flanders Field cemetery I stooped to read the messages on the wreaths of paper Poppies—the symbol of Flanders Fields and the almost unimaginable losses there—and other memorial flowers. One stood out. The card attached to the ring of red paper flowers was printed with the words, “From an American who remembers.”

    There was no name, no way to tell to whom the wreath had been dedicated. But thinking about the names on the simple white crosses, the generations altered and impacted by the cruelties of war and the men and women who are coming home now to a society grown so accustomed to conflict we forget to thank and acknowledge those who deliberately step into harm’s way , it crossed my mind I should pull out my pen and add the words, “From all of us.”

You can see more photos of the Flanders Field American Cemetery on my CAMera: Travel and Photo blog.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Is it hard to be vegetarian in Spokane?

Of course, not every weekend is unofficially dedicated to burgers and steaks.

And your mileage may vary, depending on the makeup of your particular social circle. Admittedly, some people are freaked by the idea that not everyone makes the same choices they do.

But my impression is that the majority of those around here are OK if vegetarians do their own thing and keep the preaching to a minimum.

Not sure you would encounter the same live-and-let-live vibe in parts of Texas, the Midwest, the South and elsewhere.

A cleaner Victory

OLYMPIA — With Memorial Day around the corner, the state Department of Enterprise Services is doing its annual maintenance and restoration of the Capitol Campus grounds and monuments.

On Tuesday, Larry Tate of FS Ltd., a company that specializes in art restoration and conservation work, did a cleaning job on Winged Victory, the monument to World War I veterans at the northeast entrance to the Capitol Building. Heat, cold, rain, snow and salt air from nearby Budd Inlet are hard on the sculpture

FS Ltd. did a major restoration work on Winged Victory, cleaning off the gold paint that had been applied by someone previous administration that thought  the1938 sculpture needed to be a brighter color, and restored it to the color it was when Alonzo Lewis finished it. 

From his vantage point, Tate got to see Winged Victory from an angle most people don't. How's it looking from up there?

“It looks good,” he said.

A poem, a poppy

Did you ever wonder what the connection is between poppies and Memorial Day?

Read on…

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.


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army


Find a grave.com

A work buddy told me about a cool website, findagrave.com, where you can look for gravesites in a variety of ways. You can search on a name or search at a specific cemetery.

I tried Fairmount Memorial Park on Spokane's North side. And though it lists, in alphabetical order, about 6.000 people buried there, the searches on my family members buried there didn't find them but I did find some old friends of my parent's.

Anyway, it's worth a look.

Memorial Day celebration in Fairfield

A simple metal cross marks Rudolph Norman's grave. He was buried at the five acre Fairfield Cemetery in 1920. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I haven't heard of too many Memorial Day celebrations being planned, but Fairfield is having one that will both celebrate veterans and the small farming town's historic cemetery. The ceremony was originally planned to be held at the cemetery outside of town, but the dismal weather forecast has prompted organizers to move it to the Fairfield Community Center at 304 E. Main. The hour-long ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday. Local veterans are encouraged to attend and be honored for their service. The ceremony will also feature the rededication of the historic cemetery gates that are 116 years old. You can read my story about the event and the history of the picturesque cemetery in Saturday's Valley Voice.

Still no arrests in gravesite flower thefts

A woman who sold Memorial Day flowers stolen from Catholic cemeteries told Spokane police she didn’t know the items were stolen.

The woman, who has not been arrested, said she got the flower pots from a relative, police said today. But police determined the flowers were stolen from gavestires at tree cemeatries.

Nearly 760 planters had been purchased for $25 by Memorial Day. Most disappeared that weekend; a cemetery employee spotted them being sold for $5 at the corner of Stevens and Buckeye Monday morning.

Police on Tuesday released photos of the planters in hopes more people will come forward. Anyone who bought one of the stolen planters is asked to return them to the cemeteries office at the Holy Cross Cementary, 7200 N. Wall.

Anyone who sees the flowers still being sold should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Read more about the thefts in this story: Memorial Day planters stolen from graves

DFO: Vets Got Their Due On Flight 918

DFO: Back home in CdA after a wonderful week in Denver. I was impressed by lead stewardess on my Southwest Airlines flight No. 918 who reminded everyone as we were landing in Spokane that (Monday) is Memorial Day. She then asked all the vets to punch their call lights in their seats to allow other passengers to know that they’d served their country. The loaded plane then burst into applause. Additionally, the veterans were asked by the stewardess to de-plane first. Wonderful return to our area. The pouring rain after the Denver sunshine didn’t diminish that moment in the friendly skies.

Question: How did you observe Memorial Day?

Memorial Day: Decorated with Love and Respect

May 26, 2008

Love and respect are memories to cherish

Cheryl-Anne Millsap
The Spokesman-Review
Tags: home planet

Growing up in the house where I lived with my grandparents, this day was called “Decoration Day.”

Each year,  with my grandfather behind the wheel, they would drive my grandmother’s mother to a small cemetery in the little community where my family once lived.

My great-grandmother was a tiny woman, stooped and soft-spoken. She had white, tightly-permed hair and wore thick glasses to correct her poor vision.

When she could no longer live alone in her tiny apartment, with a Bible, the stack of afghans she crocheted, an album of faded photographs, three or four practical dresses and one “Sunday” dress for funerals and weddings hanging in her closet, she moved into a place on a son’s property. When he died, she moved in with my grandmother – her last living child.

Her life could have rivaled any “Oprah” book club pick. Born poor in a mining village in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, she’d been courted and won by Doc McConnell, a coal miner who was older than she. Theirs was a famous love story in that little town.

They married and seven children came along before he succumbed to black lung disease. She survived two house fires in her lifetime, losing everything twice.

Her own strength and good health didn’t pass down to her children. When she died at the age of 102, she had outlived them all and many of her grandchildren.

Neither my grandmother nor my great-grandmother could drive. So one Decoration Day, in my grandfather’s absence, the chore fell to me.

I wasn’t thrilled about it. When you’re 18 years old, you don’t want to drive two old women around a country cemetery when you could be at the mall or at a friend’s house or anywhere but on a dirt road surrounded by weathered tombstones, some so old they were crooked and tilted toward the graves they marked.

I piloted my grandfather’s station wagon through the old graveyard until we reached the McConnell family plot and parked in the shade of a massive oak tree.

My grandmother and great-grandmother pulled out of the car a big box of glass vases they’d spent the day before filling with artificial roses and carnations. I carried the box for them as we moved from grave to grave.

“Who is this?” I would ask, looking at the name carved into the stone.

They would answer as they pulled weeds and placed the flowers, propping the vases with stones so they wouldn’t fall over.

There was the sister who’d succumbed to a “fever.” The uncle who had died in an accident. The babies, guarded by gray stone angels, who’d only lived a day or a month or a few years. One by one I was introduced to my ancestors.

We came to the last grave. My great-grandfather’s grave. My great-grandmother put the flowers on the green grass and swept away the leaves that had fallen in the autumn wind and blown against the mossy stone. She been only in her 30s when he died, leaving her with nothing but children.

“Mama ‘Connell,” I asked, “Why on earth didn’t you get married again to get some help with your family?”

“Because,” she replied, turning to give me a long look, “I never loved any man but Doc.”


I looked at my great-grandmother, a true survivor who lived through more hard times than most of us will ever know; a woman who fell in love and stayed there for three-quarters of a century, as she dusted the red clay dirt off her hands and walked away.

Love. I hadn’t thought about that. It never occurred to me as we moved from grave to grave that it was love and respect and a sense of responsibility that had brought us there.

They’re all gone now. My mother, my grandparents and my great-grandparents – people my children never met but who are as real to me as the distant relatives we talked about that hot Memorial Day years ago – are all buried 2,500 miles away. All I can do on this Memorial Day is gather a bouquet of memories and bind it with love and respect.

And in that way, even those who are long gone, having lived and loved and finally faded away, are never forgotten.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Memorial Day Flags

Ryan Wahl attaches an American flag to a pole on Tuesday at Fairmount Memorial Park, as crews place 2,240 flags throughout the cemetery. Every flag has a number and is put in the exact same spot year after year.

Each of the 2,240 flags raised in Fairmount Memorial Park is meticulously plotted in the same location each year so families can pay tribute to the veterans they’ve lost.

The flags were displayed with the caskets at the veterans’ funerals. Since 1970, families have donated them for display in one of four cemeteries in Spokane. Between Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Riverside Memorial Park, Spokane Memorial Gardens and Fairmount, about 3,500 flags will fly this year for Memorial Day on Monday. Each flag bears the name of the veteran and a number to track it. Asia Hege, SR. Full Story.

My dad’s flag flies here. We’ll visit his grave and see his flag on Sunday. Who will you be thinking of on Memorial Day weekend?

Memorial Day Wild Card

Apparently, DFO is taking this whole vacation thing seriously. He didn’t even leave a Wild Card for today! So here’s one for those who are indoors or can figure out how to combine blogging with lake activities and barbecuing. We visited my Dad’s grave at Fairmont Memorial Park yesterday. The view from the bluff is spectacular and the acres of flags never fail to move me.

Preface to Memorial Day…

Good morning, Netizens…

I receive a lot of e-mail from this source, and although he is barred from posting live, occasionally he writes so eloquently, so very much from the heart, that I cannot help myself but post his messages. Sitting in front of the open window overlooking The Virtual Garden this morning, he writes:

The sun is breaking through my window and as usual I could not sleep.   I was thinking about tomorrow. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

There are all the ceremonies and events where uncaring politicians and bigwigs talk about things that they do not know of.  I think about my older brother who went to Vietnam and came home pretty shot up.  I was just an ignorant high school kid and did not understand.  Not too many people cared. The Government didn’t, my family didn’t.  He wandered and faltered and eventually took his own life. The Vietnam war was not necessary and was only a paranoid reaction by our politicians at the time whom had nothing better to do than to expend the lives of 50,000 of our finest citizens.

On Monday they will dedicate/groundbreak a new State Veterans Cemetary out near Medical Lake.  I find it sadly ironic that we can find the money to build a Cemetery to take care of out dead veterans, but there is no money to help or take care of our LIVE ones, of whom so many are now becoming homeless.

The VA hospital here is much like a repair factory. Broken Veterans go in and supposedly fixed ones come out, but they are never as good as new and the process is failing. One cant undo all the pain and suffering and midnight sweats and the monsters that come out of the night to haunt our souls with just a pill. We are never ever made whole again.

Von Clauswitz once said. Military action is the last resort of an incompetent politician, this having been proven again and again and most recently from our previous Commander in Chief. Sadly our political and military leaders spend lots of time and effort calculating how to fight a war, but they then never consider the costs of ending such, and the human cost of those whom have to fight it for them.

Many of us voted for Obama on the beliefs that lack of habeus corpus, justice and freedom, and truth would be re-established, that warrantless searches, illegal wire taps, state endorsed torture, secret prisons would go away. We also voted for “CHANGE” that has yet to happen.  We still have McMorris, Murray and Cantwell who keep talking out of both sides of their mouths. So all this bailout money goes to prop up corrupt corporations that have been running in the red for years, yet the money comes from the pockets of us whose been laid off and whose mortgages are failing and whose retirement accounts after years of scrimping and saving are now a pittance.

I keep expecting my government to fix and do the right things, but it doesn’t. I guess my soul is very tired.  I will probably drag myself to the Cemetery’s and the events, remembering those who gave all and cursing my Government that sent them there.  

Thank you my fellow veterans, your sacrifices will not be forgotten, nor the pain and suffering that you dealt with.  Someday I too will let all the hurts go away and will join you, and for one hour, of one day, of one year, they will put a pretty little flag on my grave and maybe people will stand around listening to our lying politicians, never knowing the sacrifices we made so the rest of you can live in freedom.

Humpty Dumpty
p.s. All the kings horses and all the Kings men cant put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Tomorrow we may remember those fallen dead and living who have served our country. Many will not remember them at all, but will celebrate nonetheless. Unfortunately, everyone should, as we do take a lot for granted in this country.

Thank you Mr. Dumpty for your contribution and service.


What’s on the Barbie?

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally when folks fire up their barbecues for their first time. Not us. We bbq all year long. Well, except for this year when the grill got buried beneath several feet of snow. That put a crimp in the cookouts.
So what will be on your grill this weekend?

* Hamburgers

* Hot Dogs

* Steak

* Chicken

* Other