SPANISH FORK – Volunteers gathered Thursday afternoon at the city cemetery in Spanish Fork to set up and display 1,526 metal crosses in preparation for Memorial Day.
Member’s of the Spanish Fork Veterans Council, American Legion Post 68 in Spanish Fork, local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and many other volunteers of all ages gave their time to help.
“This is a wonderful time to honor those who have passed away serving our country,” said Bob Beagley, a veteran and member of the American Legion Post 68. “It is beautiful when they are all up.”
The Memorial Day crosses started years ago when former mayor and commander of the Veterans Council Tim Moran wanted to honor those local veterans who were buried in Spanish Fork Cemetery. Moran died this past year but the tradition carries on.
“It was his idea to make a memorial that is a replica of a National cemetery,” said Army veteran and former Commander of Post 68 in Spanish Fork Steve Wilson.
Each cross stands with an American flag that is placed on the top of them. The name of the veteran is displayed on it along with the war or conflict that they served in, and the crosses are placed in rows at the entrance of the cemetery. The veteran’s name is engraved on a small plaque then glued onto the cross. Spotlights shine on the crosses at night.
Angela Paulk brought her Cub Scout group down to help with the crosses since her group has been talking about service and respecting the flag.
“I felt this was a good service for these boys to participate in,” Paulk said. “I wanted them to understand why we do this.”
Retired welder and veteran of the Korean War Roy Johns of Spanish Fork has for many years made the welded crosses and fixed any that need repair.
Richard Davis has volunteered to set out the crosses for 30 years. His role is to plan the layout of the crosses then get them all in alphabetical order in rows and ready for the volunteers to add the flags on top.
“It almost takes your breath away when they are all up and the flags are flying,” Davis said. “This has been such a wonderful event to be a part of and to be able to honor our veterans.”
Each year during the Memorial Day program, a veteran who has died is chosen to be honored. This year Richard Banks will be honored with the raising of the flag that draped his casket. His widow and family will be there to represent him.
During the program, a flag will also be raised for each branch of service.
“We have a very nice program each year and a nice turnout,” Wilson said. “This is a wonderful time to honor our local veterans.”
The crosses will be on display until Tuesday.
“My great-grandpa was in World War II and so I am glad I can do this for our veterans,” said Jordan Wright a Cub Scout. “It is fun putting flags on the crosses.”
The Memorial Day program will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Spanish Fork Cemetery at 420 E. 400 North.
Author: Shannon Poulsen | Correspondent, Daily Herald
See Shannon Poulsen, “Volunteers honor veterans with crosses in Spanish Fork cemetery,” (May 23, 2014) Daily Herald.