It hadn’t rained in hours, but 15 minutes before the Memorial Day Parade and Service were set to get underway in Gays Mills, a light, but steady, rain started. That moved the entire observance into the old Gays Mills Community Building on Main Street, but it hardly dampened the enthusiasm of those in attendance.
American Legion McCormick-Rose Post Commander Ed Heisz welcomed the crowd and introduced Pastor Alan McCormick, who gave the invocation.
Wisconsin State Representative Lee Nerison gave the Memorial Day Address. After retracing the history of Memorial Day from its Civil War roots to its current official holiday status, Nerison praised the United States as “a beacon of freedom for the world.” He noted the country was a place where anyone can succeed in a fair and just society where hard work and perseverance were rewarded.
“We must continue to defend these ideals or we will lose them,” Nerison said.
The local state representative went on to praise the role of servicemen and women in preserving American freedoms.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press,” Nerison said in quoting U.S. Army veteran Charles M Province. “It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
“It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Nerison ended his remarks by thanking veterans, who bravely served, and thanking their loved ones, who supported them, and thanking members of the public, who honored that service.
In addition to remarks made by Representative Nerison and Pastor McCormick, Mary Knudtson, a member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, also addressed the crowd.
Knudtson said she was thankful for our country, but sad some people take it for granted. She asked that people “seek the truth and awaken America.”
The placing of the wreaths that normally takes place at the war memorial in the cemetery was done by members of the auxiliary on the stairs in front of the stage.
The ceremony ended with the firing squad outside creating a ‘Salute to Departed Comrades’ and a member of the high school band playing ‘Taps.’