A humid, overcast day set the tone for the annual Memorial Day Services conducted by the Jack Ray VFW Post No. 5789. The flags that line the Lee’s Summit Historical Cemetery waved and snapped in the breeze as a tribute to the lost, their sharp red, white and blue beckoned folks to come and remember.
The melancholy song of a single mourning dove was the musical background as folks came together to honor our fallen at the Veterans Memorial in the Lee’s Summit Historical Cemetery. The memorial was commissioned by the Army Mothers Post 22 on May 30, 1948.
At the time of the original dedication, Lee’s Summit was a much smaller community. Over 800 townsfolk came to the event which included special readings by various dignitaries including the late mayor, Cass Browning. The stone with the names of 30 Lee’s Summit men who were lost in WWII was purchased at the Jenkins Music Company which was located in Kansas City. Those fine young men never came home; they were buried at sea or in the countries where they were killed.
The Lee’s Summit Historical Cemetery is a place of reflection and a repository of hundreds of stories of the lives of fallen from the Civil War to today. Some of the older grave sites have been adopted by citizens who want to make sure that do not become overgrown.
In past years, folks would carry picnic lunches to the cemetery. Children would play among the heads stones of their family members. Family stories would be shared and would become a part of the family memories. It is unclear when that custom went away.
As Memorial Day approaches cars begin to line the small drives that wind through the grounds. Some grave sites have beautiful peonies embracing them, others have small trees. Some of the grave stones are weathered. Small grave stones with angels on them tell of a tragic loss of a child.
The WWII Memorial acts as the sentential for the cemetery. It stands proud.
As if to reenact the day of the dedication of the memorial in 1948, a rain shower poured down the tears of a grateful community. The stately memorial was drenched in rain, waiting for next year when folks could come again to remember.
Kathy Smith has lived in Lee’s Summit for 24 years and is the Property Manager for Summit East Plaza Apartments. She is president of the Lee’s Summit Historical Society, chair of the Lee’s Summit Preservation Commission and on several other boards and commissions throughout the city.