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They stand to remember the fallen

Mildred Potter and Allia Mae Hughes both missed last year’s Memorial Day services at Knob Lick Cemetery, so the two women were glad they could be there Monday.

The women were among more than two dozen people who waited for the Norman L. Rigdon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5896 of Farmington, the Farmington High School ROTC and Patriot Riders to arrive for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The cemetery was one of 16 stops where the veterans said a prayer in honor of their fallen comrades, and fired volleys in their honor.

“My husband is buried here,” Hughes said. “So is my daughter’s father-in-law, my grandparents and my in-laws.”

Potter’s parents are buried at Knob Lick. Fred Kinneman, a Navy veteran who spent some time as a carpenter’s mate, said his great-grandparents are among the family members buried in the cemetery.

Kinneman, his wife, son and daughter-in-law were on hand for the ceremony.

“It’s respect for the whole outfit,” Kinneman said as the reason he attends each year. “I think it’s really nice for these boys to come down and put on this show for us.

“As long as I’m able, I’ll be here.”

The brief ceremony at each cemetery included a rifle salute, flying of the flag and a rendition of “Taps.

The annual Memorial Day ceremonies ended at the post, where participants enjoyed a home cooked breakfast made by the ladies’ auxiliary. The next-to-the-last stop was at the St. Francois County Courthouse, where representatives of the American Legion, its auxiliary, the AmVets and its auxiliary placed wreaths at the war memorial.

Initially called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The official holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, with the placement of flowers on their Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Five years later the holiday was officially recognized by the first state, New York. By 1890, all the northern states recognized the holiday that honored all those who died in the Civil War, but the South refused. Instead, the southern states held a Confederate Memorial Day on different days.

After World War I, Memorial Day changed to include Americans who died fighting in any war. The holiday remained on May 30 until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill to create three-day weekends. Memorial Day now is celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at pbarr@dailyjournalonline.com.

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