Overcast skies and just enough of a breeze to keep 226 American flags gently waving around the perimeter of Prairie Lawn Cemetery provided a pleasant backdrop for the 2014 Memorial Day service Monday morning.
A parade of Civil War re-enactors, the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry, marched from the cemetery gates to the parade grounds to the beat of a solitary snare drum.
Infantry re-enactor and Peabody resident Tom Schmidt told about the history of Memorial Day. Women dressed in 1860s attire placed traditional wreaths in front of a war monument. The infantrymen fired a salute.
Schmidt introduced 1948 PHS graduate and member of the Civil War group Herschel Stroud, who played taps at the parade grounds for the first time 70 years ago at the 1944 Memorial Day service. Stroud, of Topeka, played the haunting refrain again.
Peabody Christian Church Pastor Jim Pohlman addressed the crowd with a message about the millions of Americans who had served in wars and conflicts since World War I. Pohlman encouraged the group to remain strong in their respect for Old Glory and to pass that message on to younger generations.
Peabody Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts unfolded a flag and raised the colors to half-mast on the parade ground flagpole. At the end of the service, the colors were raised to full mast.
PBHS band director Steven Wilson conducted a group of band students who performed “Amazing Grace,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Taps” followed by “Echo Taps.”
Members of American Legion Post 95 and Elmer S. Madsen VFW Post 6229, fired the salute following Pohlman’s address.
The American Legion Auxiliary wraps more than 250 small white wooden crosses with red poppies each year. The Sons of the American Legion place the crosses on the graves of all the veterans buried at Prairie Lawn Cemetery.
The cemetery also is host to the American Legion Avenue of Flags, each hanging on a pole bearing the name of a Peabody service man or woman who has died. A spotlight shines on each flag at night and the impressive display can be seen from U. S. 50.