You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Dole settles civil suits related to listeria outbreak

Remembering Decoration Day traditions

When I think of Memorial Day, before I think of the parades, ceremonies and picnics that will fill our day today, I think about my grandmother and red geraniums.

This holiday was Decoration Day to Grandma, who took her obligation to decorate the graves very seriously. When I got old enough to help, I would beg to go with her.

Grandma’s planning began weeks in advance as she potted more than a dozen red geranium plants and groomed them in neat rows in her sun room.

On the appointed day she would wrap each clay pot in foil and put it in a box. The boxes of geraniums would go on newspapers on the floor in the back seat of Grandma’s 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood.

The car, which even then was a work of art, was kept in a dust free garage that was cleaner than many houses. It still smelled like a new car more than a decade after it was purchased. It had a massive chrome front bumper, a hood ornament that looked like a super hero, and really cool fins on each back bumper. Its color had faded from a dark blue to an amazing purple. I loved this car.

I would ride shotgun with my window down and hands out in the slipstream, and we would spend most of the day driving from cemetery to cemetery distributing the geraniums on family graves.

We would walk down the rows of stones and she would tell me stories about the names on the stones.

“They would like you,” she would say. Then she would put on her gardening gloves and use her clippers to trim any high grass or an errant limb. She would use a trowel to dig up any weed that dared to grow on one of the graves in her care.

She was quiet while she worked and I took the opportunity to explore. It was always windy and I would dance and twirl between the stones. When grandma stood up and surveyed her work, I knew it was time to get the geraniums.

“Someday this will be your job,” she told me, and I promised her I would bring her red geraniums.

Then we got into the car and drove to the next cemetery.

Grandma was saddest at the War Memorial, with its rows of white marble crosses, each with an American flag waving over it. I knew where Uncle Bill’s was and would skip ahead to the stone.

Sgt. Billy Frazier 1944 MIA.

I understood it really wasn’t his grave and that he was probably buried somewhere in Germany, but no one knew where. Grandma would wipe away tears and tell me that she just wanted him to come home.

We will find him someday, I would tell her.

The drive home on the busy Dixie Highway would be exciting. I had my window down and my arm stuck out into the wind. My hand tilted up and down as my arm “flew” beside the caddy zooming along at 45 mph. Grandma would have a death grip on the steering wheel as she peeked over it and the long hood that covered the humming V-8 engine. Lots of people would honk and pass us on the highway. I figured it was because everyone knew Grandma.

I particularly remember truck drivers who would catch up with us quickly and honk loud and long as they passed us. I would wave. I think they were waving, too, kind of.

And so on this Memorial Day as I get my geraniums ready, I’m suggesting that you take a few minutes to show your children or grandchildren where their ancestors are buried, or ask an older relative to show you where your great grands can be found.

You will not regret it and maybe someday you will get geraniums, too.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Dole settles civil suits related to listeria outbreak
Dole settles civil suits related to listeria outbreak

Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. has settled two separate civil lawsuits related to a listeria outbreak last year tied to the company’s Springfield plant. Court documents filed in U.S. District Court show the company recently reached settlement agreements with plaintiffs in two separate cases. The terms of both agreements were not disclosed. The most...
Kindhearted cops give homeless man makeover
Kindhearted cops give homeless man makeover

A police department’s act of kindness for a New York man who they say has been “down on his luck” is going viral. The Rome Police Department on Tuesday shared photos of the man, whom they identified as Bobby, before and after he was given a haircut, a shave, a shower and new clothing. “Bobby left looking like a whole new person...
Sheriff reassigns, suspends Sidney HS SRO for inappropriate comments
Sheriff reassigns, suspends Sidney HS SRO for inappropriate comments

A Shelby County Sheriffs deputy who reported Thursday that he made inappropriate comments to a female student at Sidney High School has been reassigned and suspended without pay. Deputy Anthony Cipollone worked as a school resource officer at the high school and has been with the sheriff’s office since July 2015, according to a release from Chief...
NICU babies get hero capes for Superheroes Day
NICU babies get hero capes for Superheroes Day

They are some of the smallest fighters, but they, and their parents, are heroes in their own right. And to honor the children being taken care of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Allegheny Health network in Pittsburgh, the newborns got their own super hero capes in honor of National Superhero Day. >> Read more trending news The national observation...
Study: Pot shops lead to more property crime in nearby neighborhoods
Study: Pot shops lead to more property crime in nearby neighborhoods

Neighborhoods with nearby legal marijuana stores see more property crime each year than those without pot shops, according to new research from an Ohio State University social work professor who examined three years of data in Denver. “If you’re looking strictly from a public health standpoint, there is reason to be somewhat concerned about...
More Stories