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Memorial Day ceremony held in Plains

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| June 5, 2024 12:00 AM

A solemn ceremony took place Memorial Day at the grave site of Air Force veteran Robert Louis Wilks at the Plains Cemetery.

Veterans from Plains VFW Post 3596 assembled to honor those who served. Also present were members of the VFW Auxiliary.

During the graveside service, both VFW and women’s VFW Auxiliary place flowers on the grave of Wilks. Four different colored items were placed on the headstone. A green wreath representing undying love, a white flower representing purity, a red flower representing devotion and a blue flower representing eternity of life everlasting. Three volleys were discharged from the three honor guards, which ended the ceremony.

After the ceremony,  the service proceeded to the Clark Fork River bridge next to the Sanders County Fairgrounds. A wreath honoring the sea-going services was tossed into the Clark Fork River by Leland “Butch” Murdock, a veteran of the Navy. This was his second time to perform the ceremony. 

Memory Day was originally observed on May 30. In 1868, that day was officially set aside to honor those fallen in service during the Civil War. Library of Congress records show that three years after the end of the war, John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, set aside May 30 for “Soldiers Memorial Day.” The day was set aside to remember Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the conflict. 

Logan said that the day should be for “stewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” 

Congress in 1971 declared it a national holiday and included all fallen soldiers from all American wars, changing the day from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

    Leland Butch Murdock tosses a wreath into the Clark Fork River during a Memorial Day ceremony in Plains. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)