Friday, May 23, 2008

Hailey to salute its fallen soldiers

Memorial Day ceremony set for Monday

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Valley has its fair share of veterans to remember on Memorial Day. In the Hailey Cemetery alone, there are 361 known graves of American soldiers, some dating as far back as the Civil War.

To honor these veterans and all other Idaho service members, including the 32 who have died in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hailey will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Hailey Cemetery Monday, May 26.

Each grave will be decorated with an American flag. For the 32 from Idaho, there will also be a series of Idaho flags and a memorial wall featuring photos and small bios about each.

    The ceremony will also recognize veterans buried in the Hailey Cemetery who do not have proper records or even tombstones. A fire in the 1940s destroyed the records and the cemetery's wooden tombstones. To commemorate these unknown soldiers, a new tombstone for the unknown veterans will be placed in a lot adjacent to the cemetery.   

In addition, four bronze stars will be placed on the graves of four local women who lost their children in the armed services.

    Organizing the event is longtime Wood River Valley resident Maggie Springer, who took over responsibility for it five years ago in response to dwindling membership in Legion Post 24, the group initially charged with decorating the Hailey cemetery.

    All five divisions of the military will be represented in Hailey. Former state Sen. John Peavey will preside, Col. Bill Shawber of the Idaho Army Guard will deliver the keynote address, and Kim Stocking will sing the national anthem. Springer is particularly excited about this year's service, as it will include a full rifle detail and a fly-over of two A-10 fighter jets from the Idaho Air National Guard.

The service will be dedicated to the late Joint Force Chaplain Lt. Col. Joseph Art Moore. Moore had been a regular at the Hailey Cemetery and was planning to attend this year. Unfortunately, he passed away this week from natural causes while serving abroad.

With the ongoing conflicts and concern about the rising U.S. death toll (4,566 American soldiers as of May 17, according to U. S. Military sources), Springer expects a large crowd.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Hailey Cemetery, near the intersection of state Highway 75 and Fox Acres Road.

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