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Remembering the fallen

Members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Farmington Air Force JROTC gathered at the Madison County Courthouse on the morning of May 29 to hold a Memorial Day ceremony honoring fallen service members.

Jerry Rawlins of the Farmington VFW and retired from the U.S. Army spoke to those gathered about the sacrifice made by service members who die in the line of duty.

“By their services on land, on sea and in the air, they have made us their debtors,” Rawlins said.

A prayer was said after Rawlins’ remarks, as well as a three-volley salute from a VFW rifle squad.

A flag was placed outside the southern entrance of the Madison County Courthouse, bearing a sign saying the flag is “displayed in honor of our fallen comrades.”

Rawlins said the ceremony was one of many that were held in the area to commemorate fallen service members.

“We go to 17 different cemeteries in the southern part of St. Francois County,” Rawlins said. “Then we come here, and then to the Farmington Courthouse. At each of the cemeteries we have a service like this.”

Rawlins said he’s been involved in Memorial Day services for about 17 years and finds every ceremony at each location to be valuable.

“The thing that’s rewarding to us is that at a lot of the cemeteries, there are family members there,” Rawlins said. “And they appreciate the fact that we come. So it’s really rewarding for us.”

Madison County Clerk Don Firebaugh, who is himself a veteran, said the event has been held at the Madison County Courthouse for over seventy years, though it has changed over time.

“This has been going on every year since (the VFW) was organized here in ’45,” Firebaugh said. “And we’d always have help from the American Legion and Amvets and other organizations. But this is the 71st year we’ve done this,” Firebaugh said.

Firebaugh said the event has changed over the years from being a larger ceremony to part of the series of ceremonies that Rawlins described.

“It’s a little bit different than what we used to do, with guest speakers and all of that,” Firebaugh said. “But the meaning is still proclaimed and it’s good that everybody who comes out does come out while we memorialize the day.”

Memorial Day has been a federally established holiday since 1967, but has origins in the “decoration days” observed by Union and Confederate troops following the American Civil War. 

Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars hold a Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at the Madison County Courthouse. Earlier in the day, the veterans visited 17 area cemeteries to hold services.

Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars hold a Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at the Madison County Courthouse. Earlier in the day, the veterans visited 17 area cemeteries to hold services.

The veterans and Patriot Guard riders stand with a flag before it is placed at the Madison County Courthouse in remembrance of fallen service members.

The veterans and Patriot Guard riders stand with a flag before it is placed at the Madison County Courthouse in remembrance of fallen service members.

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