Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Traditions honor those who didn't come home

| May 24, 2023 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 many of those things.

World War II Navy veteran Jim Shepperd was among my favorite people. He had wonderful stories of his family growing up on East Sherman Avenue in the 1930s and '40s and his interesting adventures. A special part of the 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. For over half a century, Jim, who started the tradition locally, performed that special duty every Memorial Day. Here’s the rest of the story ...

Jim's cousin, John, was lost in 1945 on a submarine in the Mariana Straights of the Northern Pacific so it was a very personal gesture for Jim each year. The lovely wreaths he placed on the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene were such a labor of love. Jim awakened at dawn Memorial Day and created the wreath from lilacs, cherry blossoms and other bright flowers from his neighborhood. He wove the small branches and stems together so there would be no wire or pieces of metal to litter the lake bottom.

On Memorial Day, remember this esteemed member of The Greatest Generation, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 90, as well as the veterans who came home from war and continue to honor those who didn’t.

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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 anthem of America and offer quiet prayers of gratitude and silent tears. But most importantly, they will remember the sacrifice.

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

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According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, this is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day: Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. 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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This same week last year, prices for regular gas were $4.68 per gallon at Walmart in Post Falls. This week in 2023, regular is $3.54 per gallon. If you’re out on the roads this weekend, remember that so are thousands of other people. I want to see all of you back here next week!

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Happy Main Street birthday today to Richard Wilson, Shirley Galloway, Adam DeLuca, Amy Moffat and Michelle Pfennigs. Tomorrow David Atwood, Jessie Morrow, Lori Moreland, Paul Finman, Toni Schelske, Dick Haugen, Joyce Harwood, Kasey Short, Debbi Long, Brad Cederblom, Sara Houser, Justin Jaworski (21!) and Char Carstensen light the birthday candles. On Friday, Matt Roetter, Bill Jones, Fairel Wideen, Jessica Lenz, Dorothy Montgomery, Kim Grout and Rob Brickett take another trip around the sun. On Saturday, Myrl Halliday, Kenny Gabriel, Nancy Herold and Corey Wideen (30!) mark the day. On Sunday, Shirlee Wandrocke, Michele Heuer, 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, Tiffany Williams, Jeff Pryse, Butch Andrews, Donnie Shuck and Pehr Black blow out the birthday candles May 29. Matt Weaver, Justin Curtis, Sheila Spears, Jenny Prince, Chip Wideen, Chloe Fleming and Becky Bridges will enjoy birthday cake Tuesday.

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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.