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- Editor's Note -

A Special Holiday Evokes

By Tommy Horton

By the time you read this column, an important holiday – Memorial Day – will have come and gone. For some reason, I thought it was only fitting that the new Farm Bill would hopefully become law on a weekend where we honor our military heroes. Maybe that’s an odd connection for some folks. But when it comes to honoring our men in uniform and feeling happy for our farmers at the same time, it didn’t seem like such a stretch for me.

If any of you didn’t do this during Memorial Day weekend, I suggest you think about it when the Fourth of July rolls around. Take your family to a local cemetery where soldiers are buried and put out some American flags. You’ll be amazed at how it makes you feel. My 80-year-old mother and I do this every year, and it’s hard to describe the feeling.

We start off by visiting my father’s grave at Memorial Park in Memphis. We place several flags at his gravesite and join hundreds of other Memphians who put flags at the entrance of this cemetery to honor all military heroes from the past. Last year, we took it one step further by visiting National Cemetery in northeast Memphis. That’s where we placed flags at my grandfather’s grave, who fought in the Spanish-American War and served with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

There is a long and proud military history in the Horton family, and maybe that’s why Memorial Day has meant so much to us through the years. My father was a top turret gunner on a B-17 plane during World War II, flew 50 missions over Europe and served 37 years as a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force. Many of you also know that my son Jeff is an Army captain who has already served two tours in Afghanistan as a medical evacuation helicopter pilot.

Memorial Day obviously means more when you have a family member who has or is currently serving in the armed services. When my mother and I visited National Cemetery last year for the first time, it was late afternoon, and the gates were about to close for the day. We hurriedly looked through the directory at the information center trying to find where my grandfather was buried. After an hour, we found his gravesite.

It was a proud moment for us. Connecting with family history was rewarding. But seeing a flag already placed in front of his tombstone was extra special. It seems that the local chapter of the Boy Scouts had put out flags at every gravesite in the entire cemetery earlier in the day.

We added our flags and stood there savoring the moment. In a small way, we had put our patriotism into action. It was another Memorial Day for remembering military heroes – who will never be forgotten.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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