Mineral County residents gathered at Veterans Park on Monday to honor those who served, fought and died for this county.
Under the “Big Flag”, a somber Veteran’s Day memorial was held with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Marine Corps League High Desert Detachment conducting the services alongside Lt. Col. Scott Bishop from the Hawthorne Army Depot.
As those in the audience reflected on those who have served, John Stroud, Past Commander-in-Chief of John Franklin Shain VFW Post 2313 addressed the crowd, “Throughout history, those who serve and defend, those who have faced the greatest dangers and won the greatest battles and those who die for their country receive the highest honors. Today we honor our fallen, but we also embrace a feeling of honor, patriotism and pride.”
He would continue, “From the earliest day of America’s founding, our great nation has been blessed with generation after generation of patriots willing to lay down their lives in defense of our freedom and way of life. We are truly fortunate to live in a country worth fighting for…to be afforded a way of life worth dying for.”
Lt. Col. Bishop, in his last months of commanding the depot, spoke of the end of World War I.
“Last year, we bean a two-year long centennial commemoration of America’s involvement in World War I. In 2018, we will culminate that commemoration on the 100th Anniversary of its end – on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”
“And that’s why this day is so important to all Americans. Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to stop and think about those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation, and pay a well-deserved tribute to those who ensued for us the freedoms that we now enjoy. Many of you may know of the history of this holiday. If so, you know too, that it is not just about backyard barbecues, going to the beach, or the unofficial start of summer. It has far deeper meaning.”
Lt. Col. Bishop explained the historic significance regarding Memorial Day, from its first recognition as “Decoration Day” during the Civil War to this official date in 1868. He would go on stated that from the time that eight members of the Lexington militia lost their lives in the first battle of the American Revolution to the now nearly 1.2 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – who have made “the ultimate sacrifice”.
In closing, he would quote from a speech by President Woodrow Wilson who spoke at France’s Surene Cemetery on Memorial Day of 1919.
“The fallen who lie here “are a unique breed… (they) crossed the seas to a foreign land to fight for a cause which they did not pretend was peculiarly their own, but knew was the cause of humanity and mankind.”
They “did not come across the sea merely to defeat (the enemy). They came to defeat forever the things for which (the enemy) stood, the sort of power they meant to assert in the world, the arrogant, selfish dominance which they meant to establish; and they came, moreover, to see to it there should never be a war like this again.”
“And in their loss, and the loss of those before and since, these fallen heroes “remind you what America said she was born for. She was born, she said, to show mankind the way to liberty. She was born to make this great gift a common gift… (and we ask all to join us) in this common cause where we need wear no uniform except the uniform of the heart, closing ourselves with the principles of right and saying to (everyone) everywhere, you are our brothers (and sisters) and we invite you into the comradeship of liberty and of peace.”
Seated in the audience were veterans, who were asked to stand and be applauded for their service. There were Gold Star Family members whose loved ones weighed heavily in their thoughts. War buddies from another lifetime were thought of as Commander Ken Carrothers of the American Legion Post 19 spoke, “They still speak to us.”
As women dabbed their eyes, he continued, “If you listen quietly you can hear them. You remember their voices from conversations you’ve had before they gave their last measure of devotion to this nation. And even if you are not a Gold Star family member, a battle buddy, friend of relative of a fallen hero, all you have to do is look around and you will see their legacy.”
“We are their legacy,” he told those in attendance.
“Regardless of the place or the war fought, the purity of their sacrifice is without question. Young men and women lost their lives in order to make the freedom of other possible.”
“As we observe Memorial Day every year, these families remember their fallen loved ones every day. Children without parents, Gold Star mothers and fathers, spouses and siblings – they can still hear the voices of those that they lost. And it is up to use to hear the voices of these families, offer our support and express our highest gratitude. Whether the people we remember served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the War on Terrorism or any place or time in-between, we say thank you for the freedom that you have given us. We are here because of you. God bless you all, God bless America and God bless our fallen heroes.”
To the mournful tone of “Taps” those family members and friends, were remembered by the resident of Mineral County.