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Traditions and where they began

| May 25, 2022 1:00 AM

So many newcomers to our community don’t know the stories of all of the things most people think just happen and the wonderful people who did those things. I’m reprinting a portion of a 2012 Main Street column on my dear, now departed friend and WWII veteran, Jim Shepperd, who was among my favorite people. For over half a century, he performed a special duty every Memorial Day, a tradition that continues today.

"Main Street, May 2012: World War II veteran Jim Shepperd is among my favorite people. He has wonderful stories of his family growing up here and his interesting adventures. Many of the stories are actually true. I thought I knew most of Jim's stories but I learned one this week that is both touching and humorous. Typical Jim. A special part of the VFW’s Memorial Day ceremonies at the Third Street docks is the laying of the wreath in the water to honor those in the military who were lost at sea.

Jim's cousin John was lost in 1945 on a submarine in the Mariana Straights of the Northern Pacific so it's a very personal gesture for Jim each year. I've seen the lovely wreaths he's placed on the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene but had no idea that they're such a labor of love. Jim awakens at dawn on Memorial Day and creates the wreath from lilacs, cherry blossoms and other bright flowers from his neighborhood. He weaves the small branches and stems together so there will be no wire or pieces of metal to litter the lake bottom. When I said it was wonderful that his neighbors contribute to the effort Jim deadpanned, 'They don't know they do.'

Now that I've outted him, I hope the neighbors pay no mind to the esteemed member of The Greatest Generation as he goes about the gathering of the beautiful blossoms at daybreak on Memorial Day."

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As we head into the first three-day weekend of the upcoming summer season, it’s good to remember why Memorial Day is observed. In 1868, it was known as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Now it commemorates American war dead through the generations.

This weekend, veterans, scouts and citizens will show their respect for those who’ve served and given their last full measure of devotion with seemingly simple but meaningful acts. They will clean cemeteries and headstones, they will place wreaths along with hundreds of flags on headstones. They will attend and participate in color, honor and rifle guards. They will salute and sing the National Anthem and offer quiet prayers of gratitude and silent tears. But most importantly, they will remember the sacrifice.

Take some time from the picnics and attend with your family one of many ceremonies being held in our communities on Monday.

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According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served have sacrificed and done their duty.

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After my epic family/friends 70th birthday jubilee weekend, on the 18th day of my birthday month, Bert and I headed out on the open road and drove a total of 1,992 miles in three states and three time zones to celebrate the milestone of our grandson's high school graduation.

Here’s some travel trivia: gas for the trip was $382, or $100 more than it cost last August when we made a similar trip. Highest regular gas prices we found were right here in Post Falls, Walmart at $4.68 per gallon. Lowest was Plentywood, Mont., and Ray, N.D., both $4.09.

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Happy Main Street birthday today to David Atwood, Jessie Morrow, Lori Moreland, Paul Finman, Toni Schelske, Dick Haugen, Joyce Harwood, Kasey Short (40!), Debbi Long, Brad Cederblom, Sara Houser, Justin Jaworski and Char Carstensen. Tomorrow Matt Roetter, Fairel Wideen, Jessica Lenz, Dorothy Montgomery, Kim Grout and Rob Brickett take another trip around the sun. On Friday Kenny Gabriel, Nancy Herold, Corey Wideen and Greg Gilliland mark the day. On Saturday Shirlee Wandrocke, Michele Heuer (70!), Tyson Bell, Scott Shellman, Barbara Jordan, Dane Dugan, Donnie Shuck, John Caylor, Melissa Feusier, Vance Ackley and Judy Padilla will celebrate. Louisa St John Durkin, Star Shewey (70!), Tiffany Williams, Jeff Pryse, Butch Andrews, Donnie Shuck and Pehr Black blow out the birthday candles on Sunday. Matt Weaver, Justin Curtis, Sheila Spears, Jenny Prince, Chip Wideen, Chloe Fleming and Becky Bridges will enjoy birthday cake on Memorial Day. Trey Barker III, Cindy Wood, Craig Singer, Lindsay Cantrell, Peggy Suenkel, Diane Huber and Meredith Close celebrate on the last day of May.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press. Find Kerri on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com.

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