RANGELY I A Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post characterized by new membership and increased involvement has spurred the return of a Memorial Day tradition.
On Friday afternoon, Rangely VFW Post No. 5261 members will carry on their long-time practice of placing flags on the graves of veterans at the Rangely Cemetery.
Soon after dawn on Monday morning, they will raise the cemetery’s flag and return it to half-mast until noon when, in keeping with tradition, the flag will return to full staff.
The same will happen Monday morning with flags at the Hefley Park Veterans Memorial, but so will an event returning after a hiatus of nearly two decades.
At 8 a.m. on Memorial Day, the community is invited to join the VFW for a brief service at the Veterans’ Memorial to remember those who have served in some branch of the military, in peacetime or in war, who have now passed away.
During the service, VFW members will read a selection and lay a wreath at the memorial.
“We haven’t done that for a number of years, but we’ve reorganized and gotten going again, and it’s something we plan to do in the future,” said Rangely VFW Post Cmdr. John “Hoot” Gibson.
Since the community dedication of the Hefley Park Memorial on Veterans Day last November, Post No. 5261’s membership has grown by more than 60 percent, Gibson said. Many of the new members are younger vets.
Mike Gillard, a former Army platoon sergeant who completed three tours of duty in Iraq and has been an at-large member of the VFW since 2006, joined Rangely’s post two years ago. Next month, he will become its senior vice commander.
“To me, placing a wreath and raising the flag is so simple, yet so symbolic of the commitment we as veterans have made to one another: to always be there for one another and our families and communities – especially to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for each of us,” Gillard said.
“Memorial Day is a day of reflection for me, a day to thank God for sparing me and thank him for selecting others who came before me and those who I had the honor and privilege to serve with.
“It’s a reminder that our freedoms are not free,” Gillard added. “Someone, somewhere is serving and providing that blanket of protection so we can enjoy our families and friends here at home.”