• Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Marion/ West Memphis VFW hosts Memorial Day ceremony


MARION, Ark- On this Memorial Day, people across the country and here in the region honor those who put themselves first- serving our country.


A day full of tributes for veterans started early this morning as people showed up at the Crittenden Memorial Park for the annual Memorial Day celebration.


To remember those who served and sacrificed their lives for our freedom.


“It’s a great thing that we get to do to come out here to get to do to pay our respects to all these individuals that made this country great for us,” says observer and boy scout troop leader Brad Snelson.


“This is always a special place out here- it really is,” co-organizer and VFW member James Wilson said.


The event was host by the VFW Marion/ West Memphis Post 5225.


As the ceremony began, a wreathe was place in honor of their fallen military brothers and sisters. Members spoke while placing a flower on the wreathe.


While the event was brief, the message was clear: thank you to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.


“The land of the free because of the brave,” says Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veteran and VFW member James Pulliaum. “Our fallen soldiers are the way we are able to enjoy what we do today as a society.”


Crittenden Memorial Park is the final resting place for hundreds of veterans.

The gravestone bears the military branch of those who have passed away and includes an American flag placed by a boy scout troop.


Leader Brad Snelson says it serves as a reminder for the younger generation.


“It’s awesome to see the kids ‘oh, this guy was in World War One, this guy was in Korea.’ It helps them learn what these gentlemen and ladies have done for the country,” says Snelson.


His son agrees.


“It makes me happy they sacrificed their lives to help our country be free and the way how it is now,” Bradley Snelson says.


VFW members say while the crowd was smaller this year compared to past events, they are impressed with the turnout.


They expect more observers at their 2022 ceremony.


Their 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic, making Monday's Memorial Day observation extra meaningful.


Multiple veterans say it’s important to keep these traditions alive.


“It’s getting lost in this day and time how soldiers have fought in the past and why we enjoy the liberties we have today,” Pulliaum says reflecting, on those who sacrificed their life.


“As the older generation passes on…it’s going to get harder and harder [be]cause, you can look around at all these memorials and, the older generation is really the ones carrying it right now,” said Wilson.


Wilson says they are working on innovative ways to help recruit members to join VFW Post 5225.


While Wilson, a Vietnam veteran drafted in 1966, and Pulliaum, a Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veteran, are worried for the next generation, Snelson says they will be there.


“We will continue to come back for as long as they have the ceremony,” he says.


Looking forward, the city of West Memphis will hold a Veterans Day parade this year.


This is the first time in 50 years the parade will take place.

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