Day of remembrance
One hundred and forty years have passed since the Grand Army of the Republic first proclaimed Decoration Day on May 5, 1868.
It was in tribute to those fallen Civil War soldiers as flowers were placed on their graves in Arlington Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. to honor their memory and heroic service.
That small gesture expanded over the years as a proper honor to those who perished in all American wars. Congress, in 1971, declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
While most Americans consider the day as “time off from work” for boating, swimming and picnicking, the true reason is to take time to say an honored thank you and perhaps a prayer for those who have died in service to our nation during the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf and today’s war on terror which spans the globe.
Pastor Glenn Bohmer accompanied the local military honor guard to the various ceremonies today at Estherville cemeteries. Volleys were released at each location for the ear-piercing 21-gun salute for the war heroes following Bohmer’s Bible reading and prayer.
Awaiting the contingent at the bridge over the West Fork of the Des Moines River was Mary Lou Cornelius who gently held the wreath of flowers in her lap. At the proper moment, she offered the ringed posies to Boy Scout Leader Mike Clarken who graciously climbed the ladder and tossed the wreath into the swirling waters to remember those veterans lost at sea.
At 11 a.m., the crowd was assembled at the National Guard Armory where Estherville Lincoln Central High School band students offered patriotic selections.
Special music at the cemeteries was provided by student trumpeters Alex Rosburg and Jeannine Fix as they performed “Taps.” They also performed the selection at the armory along with Jim Mohler and Kyle Anderson who sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The Rev. Don Bade of Calvary Gospel offered prayers in remembrance of those who lay down their life for others.
The main speaker was Lt. Col. Heath Streck of Ankeny who said, “America’s military forces have built a tradition of honorable and faithful service. It has been said that for a nation to be successful, its citizens must be willing to serve. Today, our brave men and women will remain the centerpiece of our national security.”
The 17-year veteran of the Iowa National Guard said they symbolize the nobility of selfless service and sacrifice to answer the call to duty.
“Our most potent weapon in this war, without a doubt, is our proud Americans in uniform, who volunteer to serve. They come from all across this great country, from small towns and cities, and from various backgrounds. Many of them will go to war and some of them will not return. We must never forget their sacrifice.”
In his message, the lieutenant colonel said 11 Iowans have given their lives in the name of freedom. The 11 hailed from Fort Dodge, Ankeny, Onawa, Cedar Rapids, Kingsley, Sac City, Glenwood, Iowa City, Davenport, Hampton and Des Moines.
He concluded, “On this and every Memorial Day, we must never forget the meaning of Memorial Day and remember those proud patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty’s blessings.”
At the point, Craig Christensen read off the names of the 23 local veterans who died in the past year.
As their names were called, Americans flags symbolizing their sacrifice in time of war and peace, love of country and fight for freedom, were removed from the armory and transported to library/court house square to flutter in the sunny Iowa breeze in their honor.