Boy Scouts celebrate Memorial Day

Troop 72 members salute and reflect as flag pieces are retired.

On Monday, May 29, 2017, the 3rd Annual Devine Memorial Day ceremony opened under quiet, cloudy skies with the bugle call “Assembly” to a gathering of 150 veterans, family members, scouts, and community members. This solemn and reverent service at the VFW included a Flag Retirement and the Missing Man Table ceremony to celebrate and honor the 1.34 million men and women of our military who have died while protecting our nation and our freedoms. This special day was hosted by VFW Post 3966 and Boy Scout Troop 72 of Devine.
VFW member & Troop 72 Assistant Scoutmaster, Gary Saathoff, opened the event with an explanation of the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. “Both Memorial Day and Veterans Day honor the sacrifices of individuals who sacrificed themselves to preserve the freedoms all Americans enjoy, with Memorial Day remembering those who gave their lives, and Veterans Day honoring all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Nathan VanderBough, Youth Minister of the First Baptist Church of Devine and National Guard member, offered the Invocation, followed by words of appreciation by Mr. Saathoff to Boy Scout Troop 72 for all they did to prepare for the ceremony and for placing flags on the graves of veterans at the cemeteries, and the Girl Scouts of Troops 2715 & 2718 for their assistance and also for placing flags at the cemetery. Special thanks was given to VFW Post 3966 and the Ladies Auxiliary for this event, as well as the year round support of local groups and events, such as Boy, Girl, & Cub Scouts; and programs such as Voice of Democracy, Patriots Pen, and Outstanding Teacher & Policeman awards. Post 3966 has been awarded several National VFW Outstanding Community Service Awards and has already donated over $9000 to charities this year. VFW Jr. Vice Commander, Steve Lopez, also awarded the Eagle Scout of the Year award to Matt Richard.
Mayor Bill Herring read the poem, An Old Soldier by Loyd C. Taylor, and spoke of the local impact that this day has had on our community over the years – “This is not only about a million plus heroes, it is about our local Devine area patriots who died in defense of our country, whose names are inscribed on our War Memorial at the four corners downtown. They were fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, classmates, and friends. They were the star athletes, award winning band members, honor roll students, as well as high school drop outs who quit school early to join the military. Some were rich, some were poor. They were from every race, color and creed. They were different in many ways, yet they were all the same: unified in spirit, purpose, and mission. Together they defended, protected, and advanced the cause of freedom. They were: World War I – William Killough, Herman Rogers, James Vance; World War II – Jesus Acosta, Frank Balmos, Horrell Baker, Monroe Harriell, Walter Henry, Edward Jaramillo, Margarito Monreal, Cecil Penn, Modesto Ramirez, Leon Sweatt, Albino Vera, Jack Wade; Korea – Francis Choate, Juan Villarreal; Vietnam – Earnest Briggs Jr.” “There are no words that properly reflect the magnitude of what our veterans have accomplished and the amount of enduring love, respect, and honor we hold deep in our hearts for them.” May we never forget their sacrifices!
Gary Saathoff began the Flag Retirement ceremony with an explanation of the Flag Code for the proper retirement of worn, torn and tattered flags with dignity and respect. He then invited veterans & family members to begin the retirement of flags prepared by Troop 72. The flags were each dropped into the flames and were given a respectful and solemn final salute. Others in attendance were invited to help retire the flags until all were retired. Following this part of the program was the Missing Man Table ceremony.
The Missing Man Table, is a place of honor, set in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members and is set with symbolic items to remind us of those veterans who are no longer here and the sacrifices of their families.
This moving and solemn ceremony was carefully & respectfully presented by the scouts of Troop 72 and speaker, Gary Saathoff:
“The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today. Remember!
The table is small, and set for one — Symbolizing the vulnerability of a lone prisoner against his captors. Remember!
The tablecloth is white — Symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation’s call to arms. Remember!
The chair is empty, for they are not here. Remember!
The wine glass is inverted — They cannot toast with us this night. Remember!
The slices of lemon — Reminding us of their bitter suffering. Remember!
The Bible—The Bible represents the spiritual strength and faith to sustain those lost from our country. Remember!
The grains of salt — Representing the countless tears of the families. Remember!
The single red rose — Reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. Remember!
The burning candle and yellow ribbon — Symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember!”
“Remember! All who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance — We will never forget their sacrifice. Until the day they return home, or find eternal peace, We Will Remember!”
The Memorial Day ceremony ended with the solemn playing of “Taps” with a silent departure.