OAKHURST — On an unseasonably chilly Memorial Day, organizers say about 60 people attended a church service and graveside ceremony held Monday morning, May 27, at the Oakhill Cemetery in honor of United States military veterans.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8743 and Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment 1121 performed Memorial Day salutes at four area cemeteries — in Oakhurst, Ahwahnee, Coarsegold and North Fork.
A rainy forecast for the annual Memorial Day event forced the cemetery district to use all-weather flags — and cut back on the number of smaller flags local scouts helped place in advance of ceremonies, as is tradition.
Despite threatening skies, neighbors gathered as a bugler played taps and an honor guard fired off three rifle volleys.
By early afternoon when Kristina Coulton-Fink stopped by Oakhill’s historic cemetery to reflect, the rain had yet to come. Coulton-Fink said her grandfather and father had both served in the military.
“My son’s fixing to go in to the Marine Corps right now,” she said. “I have to admit, I’m a little worried. But I’m also forever grateful to the men and women who serve our country.”
Oakhill Cemetery’s Little Church on the Hill will celebrate its 125 anniversary this year.
The event, scheduled for June 22 from 10 a.m. to noon, will feature free food, tours and music.
The restoration of the cemetery’s Little Church on Hill was made possible, in part, by the Grandmother’s Club as well as the local Grub Gulch chapter of the Clampers, which has been helping preserve and restore the historic chapel since 1994.
Earlier, in Ahwahnee, Candace Gregory attended a similar but smaller Memorial Day ceremony, held in the Native American cemetery at the Wassama Round House.
Flags were placed on veterans’ graves before the service, and family members, friends and neighbors were in attendance.
Specially honored at the intimate event was World War I Private Banjo Graham, 13 Co. 20 Engineers. Born in 1888 and died in 1963, Graham was said to have been a lifelong resident of Ahwahnee.
With four ceremonies in Eastern Madera County county alone, the communities of the Central Sierra once again expressed their extreme gratitude for veterans and appreciation of their service and their sacrifices.
Kellie Flanagan contributed to this story.
More photos from Ahwahnee by Candace Gregory: