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February 23, 2001

The month of May is fast approaching and that is the portent of many good and significant things. My desk calendar shows that in the next few weeks we will be observing Ash Wednesday (Feb. 28), St. Patrickís Day (March 17), Palm Sunday (April 8), Good Friday (April 13), Easter Sunday (April 15), Motherís Day (May 13), and Memorial Day observance (May 28). And of course during that period we will celebrate the official end of winter and the arrival of spring. Thatís a lot of reasons for reflection and celebration, but we always seem to survive all of them each year.

This year, a little spice has been added to Holy Week locally by the selection of Good Friday for the annual Perry high school junior-senior prom. It will be held in Ponca City and this has caused some concern on the part of parents. A letter to the editor of this newspaper set forth one personís objection to that annual celebration on a day that is regarded by many as sacred, and at a location some 40 miles away. So far, no official reaction from others but you know it has to be an issue. If nothing else, perhaps the controversy will cause some of us to research the meaning of Good Friday. But even that wonít ease the anxiety felt by others as they contemplate driving conditions on a night when tragic traffic accidents involving young people seem to happen. Whatís your opinion?

Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday in May. As I have pointed out before in this column, the U.S. technically has no national holidays because each state has jurisdiction over its holidays. The president and Congress can legally designate holidays only for the District of Columbia and for federal employees. In practice, however, most states observe the federal legal public holidays. Memorial Day, falling this year on May 25, is one of those. All of this is set forth in the World Almanac. The traditional Memorial Day falls on Wednesday, May 30.

Memorial Day is designated as a time to remember the war dead. It had its origin in the post-Civil War era and the southern states that made up the Confederacy called it Decoration Day. Now it is a memorial to those who lost their lives in any U.S. war. Solemn observances traditionally are held in communities, big and small, to pay tribute to our sons and daughters who forfeited their lives so that the rest of us may enjoy freedom and liberty. In years past, services have been held on this occasion in the Veteransí Circle at Grace Hill Cemetery and at the Catholic Cemetery. I have not heard of the plans for this year.

The possibility of a Memorial Day observance at Grace Hill Cemetery brings up a question that I received some time ago from Jo Wollard Garten of Ponca City, a former Perry lady. She asks: ďI would like to know the history of the pine trees (at Grace Hill). Did Mr. Will T. Little, the man who planted the elm trees in the courthouse park grounds, also plant those at the cemetery. Does anyone know? Who was the one with the wisdom to determine to plant this kind of pine that is drought and wind-resistant? I am 87 years old and they always seemed like big trees to me. Perhaps we grew at the same time.Ē Jo faithfully visits and decorates the graves of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gus C. Wollard, at Grace Hill. Iíll have more on this subject later. Meanwhile, does any reader know who planted the pine trees at our city cemetery?