Rita Howell’s column 5-29-12

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scouts remember sacrifice of vets by placing flags

The humidity had returned to Panola County by last Thursday afternoon. Undaunted, a group of Boy Scouts, clutching small cloth American flags, walked among the rows of graves at Batesville Magnolia Cemetery, placing one every time they identified the final resting place of a veteran.

The scouts had earlier surveyed the cemetery to count the markers that signified those who had served their country in wars.

They placed 220 flags in the large cemetery, and the smaller one located nearby, known as Batesville Cemetery. There is a misconception in this community about the two cemeteries, where segregation no longer tolerated in life is somehow perpetuated, perhaps by tradition more than any other reason now, in death.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Batesville Magnolia Cemetery has never been owned by the city. It is a privately funded non-profit operation. You buy a plot and part of the cost is supposed to cover perpetual upkeep. The cemetery is overseen by a board of directors.

The smaller Batesville Cemetery north of Magnolia is overseen by another group. It’s been traditionally used as a burial ground for African Americans, though interments are infrequent there now. Each spring, a group of volunteers devote a day to cleaning up that cemetery.

The scouts from Troop 478 respectfully set a flag in the earth beside each veteran’s tombstone.

When Taylor Jaudon and Lake Dubois came to the carefully tended grave of Brandon Presley, Lake’s mom reminded him of a personal significance.

As Lake deposited the flag, Mrs. Dubois told him, “He’s the one whose number you wear.”

Brandon had played football at North Delta. He later entered the Marine Corps and was killed in December, 2005 in Iraq. Lake has the honor of wearing Brandon’s Number 60 jersey.

A handful of scouts, with a small investment (17 cents per flag) honored the memories of Panola Countians who fought in defense of our country.

In their Memorial Day project, they carried on the tradition of Decoration Day, when more than a century ago fallen soldiers from the Civil War were memorialized with flowers on their graves on a day in May.