There are many "*tenders" among us. (Those who take care of someone or something.) Our own Ripley Cemetery has "tenders" who, year after year, tenderly and devotedly care for the gravesites of family, veterans, and strangers.
They can be seen day after day, watering blooming plants, "fixing up" around tombstones, pulling weeds, placing or replacing American flags on the graves of Veterans of the many wars past and present).
The Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic have been "tendering" the Civil War soldier at the monument, since it was first erected on May 9, 1909, and through several renovation projects, including 2009, the 100th anniversary of its dedication. In 2018, another major renovation occurred, which was financed by the "Ladies" and many veteran and civic organizations. Volunteers "tend" the plants and shrubbery around the monument; the LGAR "tends" the flags, wreaths, and flowers at the monument.
In the days preceding May 30, people came from far and near to visit the cemetery, tend their relatives' graves, put out flags, converse with one another (friends and strangers). Many old friends, relatives, and strangers, were here for the Memorial Day program, May 31, 2021. It was the first time they'd been able to gather here since 2018, when the temperature was about 100 in the shade. In 2019, the program was held at First Lutheran, due to a thunderstorm. In 2020, of course, there was no parade or cemetery program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. May 30, 2021, we had it all: a parade, the cemetery program, and, the picnic and concertina band at the Opera House.
The entire day was a tribute to all of the veterans, military and civic groups, the planners and workers, the city of Litchfield cemetery maintenance crew, the entire community, and all the *"tenders", who made this day possible.
Let us remember that we are all tenders of this "wonderful, marvelous" life in our little part of the universe.
Jeanie Shoultz Doran,
Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic