GRAFTON -- Patriotic music, parades and a special ceremony including the mother of a Naval officer killed on the USS Cole will highlight a weekend of activities planned by the West Virginia Memorial Day Committee in Grafton.
"We have a whole weekend full of activities," said William Nicholas, committee spokesperson. "The whole town pitches in to make Memorial Day something more than just an hour-long service." According to Nicholas, the event, which has been a part of the community for the past 134 years, has been named the official Memorial Day celebration in West Virginia. Taylor County is home to the only two national cemeteries in the state, the Grafton National Cemetery and the West Virginia National Cemetery, said Cindy Poe, cemetery director.
The weekend will begin with "A Musical Salute to America" on Saturday at Grafton High School auditorium at 7 p.m. The concert will be hosted by WBOY-TV 12 Anchorman and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Robert Burns and will feature the West Virginia Steel Drum Band, the "Patriot Singers" community chorus and several local acts.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds will help fund a scholarship for Grafton High School students planning to attend West Virginia University.
The Sixth Annual Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks Display will close the evenings' activities at 9:30 p.m. Nicholas said the display can be viewed from almost any location in Grafton, but the best viewing area will be the Four Corners area of U.S. Route 50 and 119. In case of inclement weather, fireworks will be shown Monday.
Donel C. Kinard, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will serve as featured speaker for the 14th Annual Memorial Day Observance at the West Virginia National Cemetery in Pruntytown at 3 p.m. Sunday. Performances by the Taylor County Middle School Band, All County Chorus and the Combined Color Guard will be included in the ceremony.
To honor Taylor County veterans buried in cemeteries other than the Grafton National Cemetery and West Virginia National Cemetery, there will be a Presentation of Wreaths Ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Mother's Day Shrine Plaza in Grafton. Music for the ceremony will be provided by the Warren United Methodist Church Choir.
The 134th Annual Memorial Day Parade will take place at 10 a.m. Monday and proceed to the Grafton National Cemetery on Walnut Street. A special feature of the parade will be Taylor County schoolchildren marching with flowers to place on graves of veterans at the cemetery.
After reaching the cemetery, Vice Admiral Richard W. Mayo of the U.S. Navy will serve as the featured speaker for the 134th Annual Memorial Day Observance. Saundra Rux Flanagan of Bridgeport, whose son, Kevin Rux, was killed on the U.S.S. Cole last October, will also play a special part in the remembrance ceremony, said Nicholas.
In addition, veterans' organizations from all over West Virginia will be presenting wreaths at the replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Grafton High School Band and Taylor County Middle School Choir will perform at the event.
For information, call 265-3945 or 265-5666.
Staff writer Shannon N. Shreve can be reached at 626-1403.