Memorial Day celebration to focus on historical events

05/05/2014 4:58 PM

05/05/2014 4:59 PM

The Keller Mount Gilead Cemetery Association and Rotary Club are putting together the fifth annual Memorial Day celebration at the city’s historical cemetery.

Cemetery Association President Darrell Wilde said the association is dedicated to maintaining the cemetery and its historical importance. A Rotary Club member himself, Wilde said the event started as an individial effort but has evolved through cooperation between the two organizations.

The one-hour event will feature speakers, stories from local historians, the unveiling of new stone and Civil War veteran gravestone markers, a gun salute featuring Civil War era muskets, raising of the flag to half-mast by local Boy Scouts and the cutting and disposing of tattered flags in the proper manner, Wilde said.

“It’s not quite as extravagant as other Memorial Day events but it’s very moving,” he said. “It’s been gaining popularity over the last few years — we typically gather about 100 to 150 people.”

The Rotary Club will serve refreshments after the event and invite guests to bring their own seating, though some will be available at the site. Kids will get their own miniature flags to post at gravesites.

The cemetery had gone through years of disrepair before the association gained legal jurisdiction to maintain it, Wilde said. Many Eagle Scouts take on projects to upkeep the historical grounds, which Wilde said features “huge pecan and shady oak trees.”

Association historian Don Stair, who has worked with the cemetery since 1995, said the ceremony is a great way for their organization to honor local and national history. Every year the association performs a roll call of veterans at the cemetery.

“It’s the idea of remembering all who came before us and honoring them,” he said.

Stair’s work in maintaining the cemetery has led to significant change and growth.

“The grass was chest-high before and we couldn’t even find gravemarkers,” Wilde said. “That place has some of the wildest, oldest history of Keller.”

The site features several hand-crafted gravestones, traditional, unmarked stone plats and a reflection area in progress for guests to sit down and take in the atmosphere. All guests are welcome to take a guided tour after the ceremony, Stair said.

The event starts at 11 a.m. at the Mount Gilead Cemetery on Keller-Smithfield Road.

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