Sacrifice, service remembered at Memorial Day programs Monday

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Flags and flowers adorned many of the tombstones as loved ones no longer with us were remembered.

God, family and country.

All were on display Monday morning as Memorial Day 2023 was observed at local cemeteries and across the country.

Father John Norman of St. Boniface Catholic Church spoke to a large gathering at West Cedar Valley/St. Boniface Cemetery. He spoke on the theme of duty and service.

“What we honor today is the gift of sacrifice given to us so that we are able to live in our country, in our nation with the freedoms that we have and the freedoms that we have been given,” Norman said.

He then shared how service by men and women, in the military and outside, has helped shape who we are today

“Part of what is so important is to acknowledge that a person serves their choice … it not only themselves it impacts their families. It impacts our communities. It impacts our nation.”

He closed his remarks by saying, “Today we honor the servicemen and women who have given their lives, who have died for our country … There may be many motivations sitting in someone’s heart when they were called to serve, and when they were in a moment to serve. They did and their sacrifice was not in vain. Their sacrifice was never wasted. 

“Today, that sacrifice that speaks to the love with which they serve and with which they gave their lives. It invites a response and a memory from us, as well.

“We acknowledge and we give thanks to those who serve, to those who give us freedom and allow us to live the life that we have.”

An hour earlier, a ceremony was held at Park Cemetery west of Elgin. There, Reverend Kate West shared the story of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who penned the famous war poem “In Flanders Field.”

“It is one of the most quoted poems from the war …Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the Remembrance Poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized Memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.” The poem reads …

“In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row that mark our place …We are the dead short days ago, we lived felt on sunset glow, loved and were loved. And now we lie in Flanders Fields.

“Take up our quarrel with the foe, to you from falling hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high. If you break faith with us who die.”

West closed with a prayer, “Holy and sacred place to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for our freedoms, the soldiers who died serving our country with their spirits ascended with you, and with their families here on Earth, provide comfort to those who mourn and grieve and to those who wait for news of lost loved ones. It is all these things we pray this day and forever more. Amen.”

Both the American Legion and VFW, along with their auxiliaries, participated in both programs, remembering the dead with flowers.

At lunch time a free lunch was served at the K.C. Hall, put on by the auxiliaries along with others who brought food items for the lunch.

Approximately 200 persons were fed over the noon hour.

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A 21-gun salute was part of Memorial Day programs at local cemeteries Monday.
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Performing ‘Taps’ was EPS band student Keyera Eisenhauer.
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Father John Norman
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Reverend Kate West