It was perfect weather Monday for the area’s annual Memorial Day parades and ceremonies.
In Gays Mills, people gathered in small groups along Main Street for the parade, which featured members of the local American Legion Post, the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the North Crawford High School Band and more.
Following the parade, the group reassembled at the Gays Mills Cemetery for a Memorial Day observance that included placement of wreaths on the war memorial by members of the Ladies Auxiliary.
McCormick-Rose American Legion Post 220 Commander Ed Heisz was on hand to welcome everyone to the ceremony and introduce the speakers.
After a brief invocation by American Legion Post Chaplin Roger Dahlberg and a selection by the North Crawford Band, local resident Ron Hayden delivered the Memorial Day Address.
Hayden, a veteran of the Vietnam War, explained the history of Memorial Day dating to ceremonies held after the Civil War to honor Union soldiers, who had been killed in that conflict. He went on to explain the creation of Decoration Day in 1896 to set aside a day for the decoration of the graves of fallen soldiers. The holiday was changed to Memorial Day following WWI to honor American soldiers who died in all wars. Finally, Hayden explained the legislation passed by Congress in 1971 that created a three-day holiday.
The local veteran referred to Memorial Day as a “day of remembrance for those who have died in service to their country.”
Hayden recalled participating in his first Memorial Day Service 50 years ago. He also recalled going with his family to visit the graves of relatives. He remembered his grandparents telling him about a great-great grandfather, who had fought in the War of 1812 and his sons who fought in the Civil War. He also remembered the family recalling others, who had died of influenza and polio.
Hayden noted his father was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, while his mother was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.
While Memorial Day has become a holiday for shopping, golfing and other things, it is meant to be a Day of Remembrance for those who gave their lives in service to the country, Hayden told those assembled in the cemetery Monday morning. Since the American Revolution 1,343,812 Americans have been killed in service to the country and 1,529,230 have been wounded.
American servicemen who died overseas are also buried overseas, Hayden said. He noted there are 21 cemeteries for U.S. servicemen in Europe alone. In Normandy, 9,387 Americans are buried. There are 10,489 buried in Alsace Loraine and more than 14,000 in Muse Argonne.
Following Hayden’s Memorial Day Address, three Girl Scouts read ‘In Flanders Field’ and members of the Ladies Auxiliary placed wreaths on the veteran’s monument.
Chaplin Dahlberg gave a benediction and Legion members saluted departed comrades with shots from rifles.
The ceremony ended with a member of the North Crawford Band playing taps.