Mayor, Colonel Lucas, Captain Manes, fellow
veterans and Hilltoppers, family, and friends – thank you.
I am deeply humbled and honored to return to my hometown and
provide a few words on one of
Memorial Day is the time Americans honor those veterans who have given their lives fighting for our country. On this sacred day, we stop and remember the enormous sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made, and are still making, to preserve our liberty, and also of the responsibility we bear to transmit liberty to future generations.
More than 48 million men and women have fought to
Our fallen heroes from World War I – Herbert Ryman and Zachary Taylor Fuiten; from World War II – Roscoe Allen, Louis “Cotton” Bender, Lewis Dean Berry, Tommy Deibert, Frederick Durcholz, Chester Goodman, Wilbur Mann, Orville Munyon, Donald Landis, Joe Houchin, and Marvin McVicker; from the Korean War – Williard “Spud” Payne; and from the Vietnam War – Michael Scroggin and Raymond Gee, Jr.
Let us also remember the more than 140,000 who were taken prisoner-of-war and the many others who were never accounted for. Some of the prisoners-of-war from our community are Harold “Butch” Haynes, Mike Koehler, Robert Horn, Stu Milligan, Robert Schahl. The fallen are in our midst today, to remind us that the cost of war and the price of peace are great.
“Memorial” in Memorial Day
For decades, stores closed and communities gathered on Memorial Day for a day of parades and other celebrations with a patriotic theme. Memorial Day meant ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, speeches honoring those who gave their lives, the laying of wreaths and flowers, and the playing of Taps. In some places, these ceremonies continue, as we see here today in Mt. Pulaski. Those of you present at this ceremony remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.
However, too many Americans, who are the beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, pay little or no attention to the “Memorial” in Memorial Day. For a growing percentage of Americans, Memorial Day has come to mean a three-day weekend, the opening weekend of summer, barbecues, picnics, and Memorial Day sales.
A Call to Action
What can we, as individuals do, and what can this community do to keep the meaning of “Memorial” in Memorial Day? First, by being here today, you are doing something important. You are not forgetting the sacrifices of our fallen veterans. What else can you do? You can –
So, as I close with a poem on this sacred day remember the names, lives and sacrifices of these 16 heroes from Mt. Pulaski.
Poem (written by Michelle
As we stand here looking
At the flags upon these graves
Know these flags represent
A few of the true American brave
They fought for their Country
As man has through all of time
Except that these veterans lying here
Fought for your country and mine
As we all are gathered here
To pay them our respect
Let’s pass this word to others
It’s what they would expect
I’m sure that they would do it
If it were me or you
To show we did not die in vane
But for the red, white and blue.
Let’s pass on to our children
And to those who never knew
What these veterans died for
It’s the least we can do
Let’s not forget their families
Great pain they had to bear
Losing a son, father or husband
They need to know we still care
No matter which war was fought
On the day that they died
I stand here looking at these flags
Filled with American pride.
So as the bugler plays out Taps
With its sweet and eerie sound
Pray for these veterans lying here
In this sacred, hallowed ground.
Take home with you a sense of pride
You were here Memorial Day
Celebrating the way Americans should
On this solemnest of days.
 Memorial Day by Michelle Keim.