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Bastrop, Smithville honor veterans for Memorial Day

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    U.S. congressman Michael McCaul is flanked by members of military and local law enforcement following the Memorial Day ceremonies in Bastrop at Fairview Cemetery.
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    Annie Jackson (center), wife of late Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Otis Jackson, is escorted during the laying of wreath ceremony by Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook (left) and Bastrop Police Chief James Altgelt (right), with Lt. Colonel Willie Pina next to Jackson.
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    Cole Johnson, a sophomore at Smithville High School, read his winning essay from the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Americanism Essay Contest. Cole was the state winner as a freshman last year.
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    Korea and Vietnam veteran Ray Dudley shares his military memories with U.S. congressman Michael McCaul following ceremony.

Bastrop County celebrated Memorial Day on May 27 with U.S. Representative Michael McCaul as keynote speaker in Bastrop at Fairview Cemetery and a Laying of the Wreath ceremony at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Smithville.

McCaul gave the keynote speech at Bastrop's 18th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony with a program featuring local elected officials and veterans. Elgin City Council member Juan Gonzales spoke on the significance of Memorial Day, while Lt. Colonel Dianna Greenwood, a Marine Corp veteran, read the poem “In Flander’s Field.” Bastrop Mayor Connie Schroeder read a joint proclamation from the City of Bastrop and Bastrop County. Patriotic music was provided by numerous members of the county, including a special military services tribute recognizing all branches of the military.

A ceremonial laying of the wreath in recognition of the deceased was led by Annie Jackson, widow of the late Otis Jackson, a Chief Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force. A 21-gun salute followed with the playing of Taps by Bastrop Police Department detective Jason Pierson to conclude the ceremony.

Earlier that morning at Smithville’s Veterans’ Memorial Park, a Laying of the Wreath ceremony was held, remembering all those who served.

Later that day, student winners of Americanism Essay Contest, held by the the Smithville American Legion Ladies, read their essays. Dinah Breeden of the Ladies Auxiliary introduced winners of the essay contest for different classes, including elementary school winner Aidan Cox, middle school winner Rylee Hallford and Cole Johnson, a sophomore at Smithville High School who was last year's state winner as a freshman. These students will hopefully advance to the state finals, as Smithville had four students in the finals last year.

Other activities at the American Legion included a cake walk and 50-50 drawing to raise funds for the organization. All veterans and attendees were treated to a free hamburger and hot dog meal.