On Monday, May 30 at 11 a.m. at Oak Hill Cemetery, the 38th Cherokee Memorial Day program will be held.
This is a tradition that started even before the first program in 1973. Harry J. William, a World War 1 veteran spent many Memorial Day placing little flags on the graves of Cherokee County Veterans. After his passing his widow Edna approached Tom Boothby will a little bit of money to continue this tradition.
Boothby got together with the Cherokee VFW and American Legion with the idea of doing some type of Memorial Day Program. It was decided at that time to represent Cherokee County Veterans with flags.
Many fallen veterans' families are presented flags and it is these flags that are representing the veterans. Each flag is recorded and given a number with a tag that has the date of birth, death and where the veteran had served In case a family would like a flag back, it is identified and the family would receive back the same flag that was used.
On May 28, 1973 the first program was held and 62 flags were represented. Today there are 598 flag representing area veterans. Each flag that is flown at Oak Hill Cemetery during the program is five feet by nine in half feet and are flown on a 19-foot pole.
The next year (1974) that the program was held the number of flags increased to 91 flags.
Shortly after the first program was held, Boothby's sons, Richard and David, got involved with the program by going out and digging holes for the flagpoles, a job they did for many years. However, when the flag number reached near 475 the pair would spend two days digging holes and needed more help.
It was at that time they got some help from the Cherokee VFW and Auxiliary, plus many area volunteers, and today Richard Boothby keeps the records of the flags.
Due to the sheer volume of flags, not all are displayed during the ceremony on Memorial Day. Currently, there are 200 flags on display during the program and the flags are rotated yearly. For the past couple of years the flags placed during the entire weekend of Memorial Day and have been lighted at night by equipment provided by Christensen Brothers, Inc.
This year's program begins with Steve Reinert who will deliver this year's welcome. The Washington High School Band will perform the Star Spangled Banner and Pastor Jon Riggert will give the Invocation.
Lila Saxby will be reading "Come Visit My Grave," written by Jim Polfes of the VFW Wasmer Post #241 of Le Mars. Mark Patterson, Commander of Cherokee's VFW L.A. Wescott Post #2253 will give General Order #11.
Also, Le Roy Jenness will be giving a special presentation to the Adam Craig Family. Caleb Claycamp will be reading "In Flander's Field" and Chad Staver will be reading "In Flander's Field," An Answer.
The WHS Band will then perform "America" and Tim Greenwood will be delivering the Memorial Day Address.
The area Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, along with leaders Barry and Nancy Nelson and Orville Saxby, will present folding of the U.S. Flag and What it Means.
Placing of the wreaths will be the next part of the program and the WHS Band will then perform "America the Beautiful."
At this time, the Review of Flag Dedication will be held. Flags to be dedicated during this service will be in remembrance of Arthur O. Eide, Kenneth L. Ehlers, Donald H. Burkhardt, Russel W. Van Western, Barnette L. Hester, Donald R. Bechtel, Verl E. Ritter, and Adam Craig.
After the review, the firing of salute will be done by the VFW Color Guard followed by Bob Conley playing taps.
Volunteers are needed for flag take-down scheduled at 4 p.m.