From the crack of musket fire to the roar of field cannons from Civil War re-enactors to the sounds of a sole trumpeter blowing taps, a small group of veterans and their families gathered Sunday to honor those who died in the service of their country.

From the crack of musket fire to the roar of field cannons from Civil War re-enactors to the sounds of a sole trumpeter blowing taps, a small group of veterans and their families gathered Sunday to honor those who died in the service of their country.

The annual Memorial Day program at the Veterans section of Graceland Cemetery was sponsored by Pine Bluff American Legion Post 32, with assistance from VFW Post 4455, also of Pine Bluff.

Aging veterans who served in World War II and Korea, as well as some who served during the Vietnam war, themselves also aging, and a few younger veterans from what veteran Robert Rhinehart called the “Middle East Period” or the “Desert Storm Period” were joined by wives and children for the ceremony, placing wreaths to commemorate those who didn’t come back from wars beginning with the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As he has done for several years, Rhinehart directed the placing of the wreaths, beginning with the Revolutionary War.

“There were only 2,200,000 people in this country at that time, and over 500,000 of them were either Patriots or British Tories,” Rhinehart said. “That was close to 25 percent of the entire population of the nation.”

After a brief mention of the War of 1812, Rhinehart moved on to the Civil War, a “war of brother against brother.”

“There were 2,200,000 men under arms, about the same number as the total population of the United States during the Revolutionary War,” Rhinehart said. “A total of 646,000 died in that war.”

The Spanish American War and World War I were next, followed by World War II, in which Rhinehart and several others who attended the ceremony served.

“Sixteen million were asked to report for the draft, and 11,600,000 were selected to serve,” Rhinehart said. “That was one in 15 of the citizens of the United States at that time.”

Royce Taylor, who served as master of ceremonies for the program, was called on to place the wreath honoring those who died in the Korean War, a war in which Taylor served.

Rhinehart said at the beginning of the program that there had been no prior rehearsals and there might be a gaffe or two, and there was as he started to talk about Desert Storm and conflicts in the Middle East before he was reminded that he had skipped over the Vietnam War. Rhinehart corrected the error by calling on Joel Blackstock, a Vietnam veteran and music director at Hardin Baptist Church who led the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America, to place the wreath for that war.

Americans who are listed as Missing in Action or Prisoners of War were also honored with their own wreath before Taylor introduced the speaker for the program, Ronnie Hedge of Weiner in northeast Arkansas.

“When I think of Memorial Day, I look back and remember those who have gone on to their Heavenly Father,” Hedge said. “They made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedoms that we enjoy and often take for granted.”

Hedge also talked about the American flag, describing it as a “symbol of freedom, liberty and equality.

“So long as it flies, government of the people, for the people and by the people will exist,” he said.

Also participating in the program was Boy Scout Troop 391 of White Hall who brought the American Flag to half staff to begin the day, then raised it back to full staff before trumpter Brad VonTunglen capped the afternoon with taps.