By: Su Phelps and Megan Way | Photos by Su Phelps and Lawrence Oravetz
On Thursday May 30th, the William B. Keith Camp #12 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War celebrated their own Memorial Day ceremony at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Las Vegas. So why on Thursday and not on Monday? For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30th, the date General John Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971.
The master of the ceremony of this event is AL Peterson PDC SUVCW. Commander of SUVCW Kurtis Dunphy with his greeting speech open the ceremony.
Among the small crowd of 60 people, a handful of local community leaders attended the event including, Jahaira Farias Representative of Congresswoman Susie Lee, President of Society of Military Widows Chapter 34 Su Phelps, Command Chief Master Sergeant (ret) Current Commander of Kurtis Dunphy Sons of Union Veterans of Civil War, President Katie Henzel, Ladies of the Grand Army Historian, Linda Miller Daughter of Union Veterans and President of Daughter of the Confederacy UDC. Joseph Graham Chapter Lathy Lucas.
Su Phelps and a member of William B. Keith Camp #12, Janet Snyder were a couple of the keynote speakers in the ceremony. Su Phelps says, “To me Memorial Day is not just a holiday. An ancient Chinese saying goes “For every general’s success the price is ten thousand soldiers’ lives.” I think Memorial Day is a time we reconnect to our fallen heroes and heroines. It’s the day we really re-light the torch of the liberty of this country and carry on that torch from the people who truly had heroic spirit. On Memorial Day we remember that we shall treasure and preserve our country’s democracy that our founding fathers created for us. We shall always remember the blood and life that our fallen soldiers spared for our country. By celebrating Memorial’s Day, we honor these brave souls for preserving this country for the people behind them.”
Janet Snyder remarked, “The term ‘Gold Star Family’ is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag. These flags or banners were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the United States armed forces during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This showed members of the community the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.”