here was only one element more beautiful than the roses, lilies and other flower varieties decorating Garland Brook Cemetery this weekend. That’s the remembered sacrifice, blossoming in full this Memorial Day holiday among cemetery visitors.
Columbus’ Heather McDonald, a member of the local Joseph Hart Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, got a close-up look at such selflessness. She gathered with a small group dedicating a new metal marker for Mary Means Hart, the wife of Joseph Hart, a Revolutionary War soldier who moved to Clifty Creek in October 1820.
“Women had just as important roles to play as the men (around wartime),” McDonald said. “You have to remember that the Harts also would have sacrificed being near other family members and definitely sacrificed comfort to come here (from Tennessee) to settle a new community.”
Nearby in Garland Brook, volunteers placed American flags at the gravesites of all military veterans. In Section 75, Vietnam veterans Larry Garrity and John Holguin stepped slowly and gingerly as they matched names on headstones with those on a clipboard.
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On a morning as cloudy as America’s freedom must have looked to cynics through many a military conflict, the pair looked nearly dumbfounded when asked why they gave hours out of their day.
“They’re brothers,” Garrity said with a steady and serious gaze of the deceased veterans. “And we can’t forget them.”
Minutes after he spoke, a lonely bell tolled in the distance as if to add emphasis to his words. All around the duo, the small red, white and blue markers symbolized courage as firm as the sleek, granite headstones that many of the flags flanked.
Every few minutes, Mother Nature stirred the wind enough to flap the full-sized American flags lining the cemetery’s main thoroughfare. Amid the surrounding silence, a sound surfaced like the pitter-patter of dignified applause — a timely salute for those upon whom a nation’s freedom rests.
In Columbus area, the holiday weekend promises hearty helpings of fun as much as homage. Here are a few of the possibilities:
Monday’s Military remembrances: 9 a.m., tossing of wreaths into the East Fork White River from the Robert N. Stewart Bridge by auxiliaries of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and rifle volley by members of the Bartholomew County Veterans Honor Guard; 10 a.m., observances in the veterans section of Garland Brook Cemetery by the local AMVETS chapter; 11 a.m., community Memorial Day observance at the Memorial for Veterans, where speaker Amanda Klei will talk about a project to purchase headstones for unmarked veterans’ graves.
Striking up the band: Columbus Indiana Philharmonic annual, free Salute! patriotic concert honoring veterans, 7 p.m. today on the lawn of the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, Second and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.
Making a splash: Swimming at Donner Aquatic Center, 739 22nd St. in Columbus, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Swimming at Ceraland Aquatic Center, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, 3989 S. County Road 525E, Columbus.
Other Ceraland Park events: Free outdoor film at the park amphitheater, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” at sunset today. Other weekend events include free outdoor live music in the amphitheater, Dwight Lightning & the Conch City All-Stars, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Gate fee is $2 per person (ages 4 and older) at the park.