• September 16, 2014

Salado mayor: The cost of America’s freedom is 'staggering'

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 4:30 am

SALADO — The thrumming bass of three Pratt and Whitney airplane engines disturbed the still air over Salado on Monday morning, indicating that Bill Fier, Mike Collier and Tom Lang of the Commemorative Air Force’s San Marcos wing had arrived for a flyover.

The three pilots banked and circled their North American Aviation T-6 Texans over the Salado cemetery.

On the ground, Salado Mayor Skip Blancett, who also is the Salado United Methodist Church minister, came to the climax of his speech.

“The cost of freedom is unbelievably staggering, and it is our tradition and our history,” Blancett said. “Lest you forget.”

As Blancett finished, the line of planes flew in barely higher than the live

oak tree sheltering the 200 people in attendance.

The engine noise trailed off as the planes headed north until they were out of sight. Blancett wrapped up his remarks.

“There may be titles out there,” he said, gesturing toward the repeating rows of gravestones, “but these are testimonies. This is Memorial Day. It’s not about bones. It’s about testimony.”

Stephen Peters, treasurer of the Salado Cemetery Association, stepped to the small podium and began to read the names of the 432 service members buried in the Salado Cemetery and the West Salado Cemetery.

As Peters finished, Nick Classen played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes in front of the U.S., Texas and service flags that hung limply at half-staff. The audience followed Classen’s performance by singing “God Bless America.”

Carol Bancroft was impressed with the ceremony.

“It was really awesome,” said Bancroft, co-owner of C&W Auto Repair.

Since she and her husband opened their business six years ago, they have worked every Memorial Day, Bancroft said.

“I told my husband I wanted to come this year, so we closed the shop today and here we are,” Bancroft said.

Tom Westerberg has attended every Memorial Day ceremony since he moved to Salado 35 years ago.

“The reading of the names gets longer every year,” said Westerberg, a Vietnam War veteran. “A lot of my golfing buddies are on the list now.”

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