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Memorial Day

May 25, 2017
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Memorial Day marks the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. More importantly, Memorial Day is a time to give thanks for the freedom that we enjoy in our country. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who fought to defend that freedom.

Senator Charles Grassley wrote about Memorial Day and the Price of Freedom. He noted that the first observances of what we call Memorial Day were spontaneous expressions of gratitude and remembrance on the part of Civil War veterans for their fallen comrades.

The Senator writes: "Memorial Day is a time for families and neighbors to gather in remembrance and in tribute to those individuals from their community who gave their lives for our country. This allows us to remember them not as strangers, but as sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. When you first arrive at a national cemetery, you are struck by the sea of identical white headstones spreading across green fields. When you draw closer, you start to see that each headstone is unique, etched with the name of an individual and his or her home state, with a date often indicating a young life taken too soon. That's when it hits home that these are not anonymous soldiers, but individual Americans who left behind a hole in the lives of their loved ones.

"I made it my practice to honor each Iowa soldier who died in Iraq and Afghanistan with a personal tribute in the Congressional Record. In the process of doing that, I have learned a little bit about each of these brave Iowans. I've learned about their hobbies, their sense of humor, and the families they left behind. I have also noticed that time after time, the family members say the same thing: that their loved one was proud to serve their country, knew the risks, and accepted them. You can't help but be touched by that kind of selflessness."

That's pretty special, Senator. Thank you.

Locally, Veterans are being remembered in a special way. The Palo Alto County Veterans Memorial Wall Kiosk and website are up and running. Emmetsburg Rotary, VFW Post #2295, Chamber of Commerce and Palo Alto County are all involved in this project to honor all past, present and future veterans of the United States military who are current or former residents of?Palo Alto County.

What a nice addition to the community. Thank you.

On Memorial Day we follow the procession to Five Island Lake, and then to Evergreen Cemetery for the annual Memorial Day program. Families listen to the speakers, then walk among the tombstones -- remembering.

What do you remember about Memorial Day?

As a family in West Bend, early in the morning we were off to the cemetery with bunches of purple iris and pink peonies, stems wrapped with aluminum foil, to place on the graves of family members. We stood for a bit to re-tell family stories, before moving from one site to the next. The Memorial Day program at the cemetery always ends with Taps - that solitary sound, with an eerie echo.

We continue to make that annual trip to the cemetery and it is still a family event of sorts. Some years we have more family together than others as we meet either at the cemetery or for lunch later in the day. It's a time to remember.



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