by ADAM GRUENEWALD
To honor the fallen, veteran and active service members and their families, about 150 people attended Memorial Day services at the Central Elementary School.
While rain may have kept the crowd inside the gym rather than outside on the lawn, it did not deter the spirited message of the event.
The Central High School Band provided continuous music as the Young America VFW Post 1783 conducted rites and other ceremonies.
In addition to the band, other performers such as Mike Merriman and Central students Alyssa Heher and Brandon Fabel gave voice to the holiday.
In his welcome, MC Richard Stoltz thanked those for coming out and taking the time, as many Americans did, to commemorate the holiday.
“It is important to us and evidently important to you and that’s what we like,”
Stolz also reminded that the VFW and American Legion are continuing to work on Veterans Park and are selling etched pavers for a walkway of honor, with a deadline of June 15.
Citing John’s Gospel, Father Gregory Abbot led the prayer for service members and their families which enable the freedoms enjoyed.
“We realize that these great gifts that come from you also come from the many men and women serving now and those who have served in the past, who have laid down their lives so we can enjoy this freedom,” he said. “We are the fruits of those who have gone before us and laid down their lives as the grain of wheat so we can enjoy these great gifts of freedom, liberty and justice for all.”
Guest speaker and third district commander Patrick Logan addressed too the importance of the families and servicemembers as well as the community and countries around the world.
He shared the story of Jack Zimmerman of Cleveland, Minn., who was injured by an improvised explosive device when he was serving in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division.
“Everyone knows that when you enter the military, there is a chance that you will be injured or even die,” Logan said. “It is a chance we take for love of country.”
The injury left Zimmerman, a man who Logan recently had a chance to meet, without part of an arm and the use of both of his legs.
“Life may have changed Jack physically but his resolve continued to move the community,” he said, as the community and the Helping Hands program rallied behind him.
Logan also spoke positively of his own father who served in the Navy and inspired him in his years of service in both the Army and Navy and later with a 29-year career in law enforcement.
“We must teach our families to never leave behind or abandon the memories of all who have put themselves in harm’s way so we can live and so we can live in freedom,” Logan said.
Logan was also encouraged by the presence of the sizable crowd in the Central gym.
“It is an honor to stand in front of this community, side-by-side with the veterans who have served to ensure the vision of our Founding Fathers,” he said, before paraphraising God Bless the USA. “We are glad to stand up and defend her still today.”
As members of the NYA and surrounding community were to leave the ceremony and go their separate ways, Logan encouraged them to remember the servicemembers and their families throughout the day and continue to support service organizations.
“We owe each of them the respect and the honor and the assurance that their commitment to this nation’s freedom will never be forgotten,” he said.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]