Thousands of families commemorated Memorial Day in East Texas this weekend, some visiting and conducting ceremonies at the cemeteries of their forbears, honoring those who fought to preserve the freedoms of generations to come.
To prepare for the events, they had spent countless hours mowing, clearing, and cleaning. They conducted services and decorated the cemetery grounds, as well as the graves of their heroes, with flags and red, white, and blue flowers.
On this Memorial Day, those sacrifices were poignantly recognized at one such ceremony at Guiceland Cemetery, just south of Anderson County, where nearly 300 people gathered to remember.
The descendants of Guiceland honored the roughly 150 veterans buried there — some from as long ago as the Texas revolutionary war in 1836 — with a six-foot black granite monument etched with large, elegant lettering and emblems from the five military branches.
The monument’s front reads: “Land of the Free because of the Brave.”
The back reads: “Honoring all who served....All gave some; some gave all.”
Altogether, the cemetery holds 1,500 graves.
Memorial Day services have been conducted at the Guiceland Cemetery for as long as Jo Oster, a cemetery board member, can remember. Even so, this year’s celebration was especially poignant.
Oster, groundskeeper George Wallace, and board member Christy Harris, along with others, worked for weeks to prepare the cemetery. On Sunday, board members met and conducted a dedication and church service, along with a pot luck dinner.
Cemetery board members had raised money to build the new monument to show their appreciation and pride.
Oster and Wallace credited the Anderson County Monument Company of Elkhart, which helped with the project and donated the lighting.
“I’m related to at least a third of them buried here,” Oster said. “And he’s related to another third,” she said, pointing to Wallace.
“We believe in honoring our veterans.”