For Miranda Sewell of Paris, visiting the Fort Smith National Cemetery on Memorial Day is an annual family tradition.
Her son, who will be 4 years old in a few days, learned all about it Sunday.
Declan Tankersley, 3, and a few of Sewell’s other family members joined her Sunday at the Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery. As the Fort Smith Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps warmed up, Sewell carried red-white-and-blue and yellow-and-green floral arrangements to the graves of her great uncle and veteran, Vernon Sheffield, and her great aunt, Flora Collins.
Vernon Sheffield, who was from the Paris area, joined the Army in World War II in 1941 and served until 1946.
“It’s something my mother grew up doing with her parents, and it is something I grew up doing with her, and now I’m bringing my son along to do it with us,” Sewell said.
Sgt. Clayton Quinalty of Fort Smith was the day’s keynote speaker.
Quinalty is a Northside High School graduate who joined the Army in 2012. He talked about working as part of “The Old Guard,” guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
There were members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in attendance Sunday. Glenda Wilkinson sat with an umbrella next to Jerry Wilkinson, Joe McGuire, Tom Hardgrave and Wayne Ireland. Skies were sunny and temperatures reached about 90 degrees with a slight breeze. Water was supplied by the Salvation Army.
The River Valley Community Band provided tunes before the ceremony.
More than 13,000 graves at at the historic cemetery.
Volunteers started putting out American flags on veterans’ graves Thursday and will return to pick up flags starting Tuesday.