Ceremony commemorates deceased local veterans
By ANGIE HAFLICH
The Garden City Municipal Band performed, "The Caisson Song," "The Grapes of Wrath" and "America the Beautiful," among other patriotic songs, during the Annual Veterans Memorial Day Ceremony Monday morning at Valley View Cemetery.
Kelly Stevenson, cemetery sexton, gave thanks to those who make the event possible.
"I just want to take a minute here to thank the municipal band and all the veterans here who continue year after year to make this happen so that we don't forget," Stevenson said.
Unit commanders read the roll call of deceased veterans, recognizing the 33 local veterans who have died, either in combat or of natural causes, in the past year. The Honor Guard then performed the 21-gun salute, followed by "Taps."
After roll call, guest speaker Marlan Wilson, exalted ruler of the Benevolent Protection Order of the Elks No. 1404 in Garden City, took the podium and told about the history of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day originally took place May 30, after it became a national day of remembrance on May 30.
"Memorial Day was about reconciliation with the North and the South, coming together to honor those who gave their all then — Civil War veterans. The South didn't immediately grab onto this Union holiday proposed by a Union general, but it evolved to honor all war veterans, North and South, after World War I," Wilson said.
Wilson shared a part of the poem, "In Flanders Field."
"We cherish, too, the Poppy red that grows in fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies that blood of heroes never dies," he recited.
Since 1920, the flowers have been used to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. That tradition has faded over the years and Wilson said the same is true of Memorial Day, to an extent.
"Over the years, (the meaning) has diminished. Some Americans even confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day," Wilson said. "Many feel that the 1968 act turning Memorial Day into a three-day holiday has been a major distraction. There's legislation wanting to change Memorial Day to its original May 30."
An act passed in 2000 asks Americans to voluntarily observe fallen veterans in their own way. Wilson asked those on hand to do the same.
"Whatever your reason for observing this day, let's all try to remember the original purpose of the day," he said, asking people to offer a moment of silence at 3 p.m. "Clearly, everyone's presence today is a step in the right direction."
The Rev. John Elder, Church of the Brethren, performed the benediction and invocation. He prayed that future generations would not have to experience war.
"Bless us that we might continue to remember over the years those who are not with us," Elder said. "Lord Jesus, we thank these veterans for standing among us today that have come out to remember the brothers and sisters who fell. We remember also the veterans who served and came home to lead this great nation. Lord, continue to bless them ... give them strength to do your will Lord, maybe not their will and be with the families that lost loved ones."