McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 29, 2013

7th Annual Children's Memorial Service and candlelight ceremony set for Dec. 8

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — It’s a night for parents, friends and family members to honor the lives of children who have died, according to organizers of a candle lighting service set for Dec. 8.

The seventh annual National Children’s Memorial Day service and the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Light Ceremony is set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Chapel on the Hill, 101 E. Washington Ave.

The doors open will to the public at 5:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 6 p.m.

“This special ceremony truly says something very powerful and significant; that our children are not and will never be forgotten,” said organizer Rhonda Manes.

Maness the mother of Clinton Ray Smith who died Oct. 1, 2008, at the age of 25.

“This event provides a way for all parents, grandparents and siblings to pay a special tribute to their children, grandchildren, brother or sister, Maness said.

“And to celebrate their life.”

“For me and other family members every day and especially birthdays and holidays will never be the same since we lost Clinton,” she said.

“I will forever miss his voice his smile his laughter and his presence every day of my life.”

Maness said anyone who has endured such a loss is encouraged to attend the candle lighting ceremony which she said can be a time of healing and comfort.

She said those attending are encouraged to bring a photograph of their child for display.

During the service the Rev. James Crowson will be the guest speaker, special music will be provided by Rosalynd Jones accompanied by pianist Gerri Gage-Burris and poetry reading s by Peggy DeFrange, Melodie Schooler-Jones and Maness.

The service will be followed by a 7 p.m. candle light ceremony.

During the ceremony a candle will be lit in honor of each child represented at the service and each child’s name will be announced.

Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Maness said the ceremony brings comfort but it’s heart ache that never goes away.

“There is no greater loss than that of losing a child,” Maness said.

“Its unbearable.”

She said the candle lighting helps to give bereaved individuals the opportunity to remember their children, “so their lights may always shine.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at