By Ron VandenBoom
Flags at the VFW Club in Havre will be flying at half staff on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, to honor military veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and democracy.
Ceremonies in Havre are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on the flag-draped lawn of the Hill County Courthouse. The ceremony will feature a traditional 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps."
Members of Havre's various military service organizations also will lay wreaths on the Veteran's Memorial at the corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street, and a contingent of Canadian veterans from Redclif and Medicine Hat also will honor the fallen by laying a wreath on the Memorial.
For the second year in a row, a balloon release also be a featured part of the ceremony.
The ceremonies at the courthouse are expected to last less than an hour before being moved to the VFW Club.
Flags at the VFW Club will be flying at half staff and, according to Bob Rice, commander of local VFW Post 497, the flags will continue flying at half staff for an extra hour until 1 p.m. to honor 10 area veterans whose names will be added to VFW Post 497's Wall of Fame. The Wall honors deceased veterans who have contributed to the betterment of their community and their country.
Ten black wreaths will be posted on either side of the main entrance to the VFW Club in honor of the new inductees.
The names of the veterans being added to the wall are:
Rice said the Wall of Fame ceremony is just one of the things the VFW will be doing a bit different this year.
No keynote speaker will address the crowd as in past years, Rice said, but there will be several presentations reflective of the solemnity of the occasion.
A presentation on the origins of Memorial Day and an explanation of the origin of the well-known military song "Taps" will be a part of the ceremonies, as well as the induction of four living veterans into Uncle Sam's Finest Hall of Fame.
The ceremony also will have a strong musical flavor this year, as several volunteers have been recruited to perform musical numbers of a patriotic nature. "This Land is Your Land" is just one of the numbers Rice said would be performed this year.
Following the ceremony, a free lunch of beef stew will be provided.
The Havre VFW is also providing a free barbecue on Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, at 1 p.m. in in front of the VFW Club. The public is invited to come and enjoy the barbecue and meet and say thank you to some of the veterans.