By Jason Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org | 0 comments
Area citizens came to the All Veterans Memorial park to commemorate veterans on Memorial Day.
"Today, we remember our fallen soldiers and veterans," said Maria Lane, whose son, U.S. Army Specialist David Lane of Emporia, was killed in action on Sept. 4, 2007, in Baghdad. "We honor their memory by recalling their lives. Who were these heroes? They were sons and daughters, brothers, sisters and friends, battle buddies. Knowing them changed and shaped our own lives. So speak their names off, so their memory lives on."
Sgt. Maj. Leanne Kehres and Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) Gerald Kehres read the memorial roll call of local veterans. Wreaths and flowers were placed at the flag poles and in the Cottonwood River.
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day following the Civil War, where people would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day in 1868. It changed to Memorial Day in 1967. A federal law then moved Memorial Day to the last Monday of May in 1971.
City Commissioner Steve Harmon was the master of ceremonies for the Memorial Day service.
"When people think of Memorial Day, they sometimes forget that it's about remembering those who passed away and obviously memorializing," said Harmon, who is a command sergeant major in the Kansas Army National Guard. "For us, it's about celebration of service and the dedication and and the memories of those who have been lost before us because when we're doing that roll call, the list continues to grow as people pass away from natural causes or from service.
"… And, we mourn their loss, but we still celebrate their memories. It's an honor to actually be a part of the ceremony and remember what Memorial Day is all about."
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kristopher Lemaster of the U.S. Army was the guest speaker. He is with Detachment 2, Company C, Second Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) out of Salina. Lemaster served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"(Memorial Day) is just a day set aside where everybody can collectively come together to remember and try to honor our fallen soldiers that have passed," Lemaster said. "I have dear friends of mine that have died in battle overseas, so it's a special day for me."
Sen. Jeff Longbine, Rep. Don Hill, City Commissioner Bobbi Mlynar, Emporia Vice Mayor Danny Giefer and Lyon County Commissioners Dan Slater and Rollie Martin also attended the service.
The Emporia Municipal Band played at the service.
The American Legion Ball-McColm Post No. 5 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1980 color guards and firing squads went to the Memorial Day services at the All Veterans Memorial park and the Americus Cemetery