American Legion Post 138 hosts flag laying ceremony at Elliottsville Cemetery

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Goodwin-Lee American Legion Post 138 hosted veterans and their families to place flags on the graves of service members buried at Elliottsville Cemetery at First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster on Saturday, May 22.

According to Second Vice Commander James Billings, this event was created as a way to honor the service of late military members ahead of Memorial Day.

“We wanted to do something for our community and we recognized that there was really no one taking care of the cemetery here in Alabaster,” Billings said. “We are a fairly new American Legion, so we have been looking at what we can do for the city.”

The organization held the event over the weekend to not compete with the Memorial Day service at the Alabama National Cemetery. Billings also said that it was a great opportunity to bring attention to veterans interred in Alabaster.

“We wanted to try and take care of veterans laid to rest in our own community,” Billings said. “We saw this as an opportunity to get out and be present in the city. Hopefully we can get more people on board with events like this.”

During the ceremony there was a musical performance by Michael Sweeney, invocation by Pastor Matthew Ingram, remarks by Post 138 Commander Paul Gonthier, a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by Billings and a benediction performed by Post 138 Chaplain Rev. Larry Sailes. James Quakenbush of Buglers Across America also played Taps during the ceremony.

There was also participation by Boy Scout Troops 20 and 220 and Cub Scout Pack 394. The scouts got to participate in the ceremony as a way to learn the importance of service.

“We had the kids escorted by adults to go and place flags at each of the graves,” Billings said. “It is a way for us to teach children about the meaning of Memorial Day. We can show them that it is not just another day off, or the beginning of summer.”

Billings said the event also carried a special significance to him as a veteran.

“It is very important to me that each veteran is honored on Memorial Day,” Billings explained. It is a time we recognized those who have served their country, which is very personal for me as a veteran. It was a really wonderful ceremony and great for me to be able to see the scouts and their parents walking among the graves and placing the flags.”

Post 138 officers hope to make this an annual event to bring further attention to the often forgotten graves of Alabaster veterans.