Remembering Memorial Days Of The Past


It’s that time of the year again — Memorial Day weekend is here. The three-day reprieve from work ushers in the unofficial start of summer, with graduation get-togethers, family cookouts, camping trips and a whole lotta traffic coming in from the south. The increased traffic may slow us down a bit, but it sure is good for our businesses.

In addition to many family activities sure to take place this weekend, on Monday the Town of Payson will sponsor its annual Memorial Day patriotic program at Green Valley Park, beginning at 10 a.m. Plus, if you enjoy arts and craft shows, you can take the exhibits in Pine and at the Community Courthouse parking lot in Payson. Each show is scheduled to have at least 50 vendors.

But while we’re enjoying our longer weekend coming up, let’s not forget that the real meaning of Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Let’s take the time to remember our armed service personnel who have given their lives to keep us free.

My earliest childhood remembrance of Memorial Day was way back in the day when Memorial Day actually fell on the day that Congress had enacted as Memorial Day — May 30. It didn’t matter what day of the week the holiday fell, that was the day the whole country celebrated it.

What I remember most was that Memorial Day seemed so patriotic then, with all the American flags flying from homes and the importance of our city’s annual parade.

I vividly recall our Memorial Day parade stepped off early in the morning near Community Hospital and worked its way down our city’s two main shopping streets. The parade seemed like it went on forever, and appeared to me to have as many marchers as watchers.

Along with the usual military auxiliary groups and marching bands, all of the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in town also marched, as well as all elementary school students. I remember sometimes marching with my classmates and other times with my fellow Boy Scouts.

But no matter what group a person marched with, everyone carried a miniature flag, which was placed around specially marked veterans’ graves at the West Side Cemetery at the parade’s end.

Then it was off to the Methodist Church for their annual pancake breakfast for as many flapjacks as a young boy could stuff into himself. It was a wonderful way to end such a patriotic morning.

This week’s question

This week’s music trivia question is: Can you match the following American patriotic songs with their artists?

Songs: A) “God Bless the USA,” B) “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” C) God Bless America.”

Artists: 1) Barry Sadler, 2) Kate Smith, 3) Lee Greenwood.

If you are the fourth caller and have the correct answer, you’ll win a CD of 20 all-time favorite patriotic hits.

Last week’s question

This past week’s music trivia question asked if you could name the song that was not a No. 1 hit by Elvis Presley. The choices were A) “In the Ghetto,” B) “It’s Now or Never,” “All I Have to do is Dream,” or D) “Good Luck Charm.”

The correct answer was the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to do is Dream,” which topped the Billboard pop chart for five weeks in the spring of 1958.

Congratulations to this past week’s music trivia winner, Kelly Jumper, who won an Elvis Presley Greatest Hits CD, which includes all 18 of Elvis’ No. 1 songs.

A little about Kelly — she was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and raised in Detroit, Mich. Following high school, she began her long career with Michigan Bell. She and her husband, Jack, have been married for 39 years. The couple found their way to Payson nine years ago, after stops in Missouri and the Valley. Kelly said, “I just love Payson, I love the people here and I love my neighbors. Life is so good here.”

Kelly has worked the last seven years at the Mazatzal Casino and in her spare time likes to cook, garden and tend to her five chickens. She enjoys all genres of music, but particularly likes 1970s-80s country. She puts George Strait, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson on top of her favorite artists list.

A final note

Congratulations to all 167 graduating seniors from Payson High School’s 2013 class. Best wishes to you as you continue your academic studies, begin a work career or enlist in the military.

For those who are going away for a while (or maybe permanently), I hope you enjoy the excitement of a new setting, making new friends and meeting new challenges. But remember that Payson will always be your home and you can always come back. The Rim Country really is a pretty darn nice place to live, work and raise a family.

Also, new pictures that I’ve just added to my Web site are from this past Wednesday’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony and dance at Tonto Basin School. It’s an event I look forward to all year.

Have a great week, everyone!

DJ Craig (928) 468-1482


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