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A spectacular release of eleven doves will begin this year's Military Ceremony at Prairie Grove Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27th following the parade in Waynedale.

The ceremonial "white dove" release is a division of A-1 Wildlife Services called Whispering Wings. Trainer and owner, Rex Helton will use a special breed of white homing pigeons or 'doves' for this event.

Ten doves will be released first (honoring all military) and the eleventh will be held back until the flock circles. The eleventh dove representing the spirit of the departed (for the September 11th tragedy and for all men and women who served our country and brought us our freedom yesterday-today-and tomorrow) will then be released to join the group. The doves will circle the area a few times to get their bearings before starting off for home.

Rex breeds, raises, and trains his own birds in Woodburn, Indiana. Training starts at 12 weeks of age with very short distances, gradually building up to many miles. "Although our birds can fly hundreds of miles," explains Rex, "we limit our release area to ensure that our birds return home safely. The average flying speed of a homing pigeon is 30 miles per hour, so the limit of our release is 50 "air" miles from Woodburn. All the releases need to be timed so that the birds can arrive home at least one hour before dark". They can also be released in light rain. However for the safety of the birds they will not release them in inclement weather, at night, or indoors.

Whispering Wings offers customized 'white dove' releases for weddings, memorial services, church services, and other special events. Rex Helton can be contacted for more information at 260-632-5106.

These birds trained by Rex have that "homing instinct" and somehow know exactly where home is. Come observe this memorial tribute to those who have lost their lives on September 11th and in past wars.


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