‘What those crosses represent’

For years, the Lucas family has observed a Memorial Day tradition.

They go to the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin to attend the memorial service to remember members of the armed forces who sacrificed for the country.

First, they stop by the cross bearing the name of Glancy Lucas.

Glancy Lucas of Nineveh was killed in Germany during World War II just after the Battle of the Bulge. His siblings were 8, 10 and 12 when their older brother died.

In the 70 years since the war ended, they go to the courthouse and place silk flowers on the cross that honors their brother.

“He has been gone a long time,” Preston Lucas said. “I just want to see it every year,” he said about the cross.

A few hundred people went to the courthouse to hear about the fallen from the county and what their sacrifice meant to friends and family.

A rifle salute and taps honored the fallen.

Members of local American Legion posts and their auxiliaries, Daughters of the American Revolution chapters and Elks clubs placed wreaths on the courthouse lawn.

The local 40 & 8 band played patriotic songs, including “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Terry Bayless, a Vietnam veteran who spoke at the event, said Memorial Day too often is thought of as the day that marks the beginning of the summer, a time for picnics or another day off work.

While he didn’t have to endure the Tet Offensive or take part in pitched battles during the war, Bayless said, his work did help him appreciate the sacrifices that others made.

“In my service, I saw enough to know what those crosses represent,” he said.

A total of 165 crosses dotted the courthouse lawn for a week were to honor the Johnson County residents who have died in conflicts starting with World War I. The crosses and flags are placed by volunteers.

Family members often stop at the crosses to honored loved ones. At least 20 had silk flower bouquets.

Paul M. Heltzel’s cross had a photo of him and a card with the title “Remembering Your Brother.”  He died when a roadside bomb detonated while he was on foot patrol in Baghdad.

For at least 40 years, volunteers have placed the crosses and flags, said Phil Williams, a trustee at American Legion Post 205. He said the crosses are the perfect representation of what the day is about.

“It is exactly what Memorial Day stands for, to honor those who died in action,” he said.

Each year when the Lucas family gathers on the courthouse lawn, they remember their brother.

Bruce Lucas was toting along a front page of a newspaper declaring that the war that killed his brother was over.

“It’s just very emotional,” he said. “It is a lot of memories.”

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.