County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Community Gathers, Honors, Remembers Its Fallen Veterans

Speakers Cite Fundamental Facets of Memorial Day



Cleaver Senior Staff Writer

HARRISON – Impending rain threatened to dampen the May 27 Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Freedom Park in Harrison, however, this gathering was far too important to be delayed by a few raindrops. Fortunately, the misting and light rain held off until nearly the end of the proceedings.

The program began with the Honor Guard’s Posting of the Colors accompanied by the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Attendees were welcomed by Karl Hauser, director of Clare County Veterans Services, followed by his reminder that – aside from all the barbecues, car dealer discounts and mattress sales – Memorial Day is specifically meant for remembering fallen comrades.

“Veterans Day is designed to honor our living veterans,” he said. “Armed Forces Day to honor those currently serving in uniform. Memorial Day has a special place and is obviously the oldest of these ceremonies.”

Other speakers on the day included Allisha Gary, Clare County Veterans Service Officer; Joe Prato, commander of American Legion Post 404; Scott Taylor, VFW District Commander and VFW Post 1075 Commander; and Lt. Steven Sentz, Clare County Sheriff Department. While the whole ceremony was only 24 minutes long, each speaker conveyed passion for their topic, along with a deep sense of commitment and an urging that listeners never forget what Memorial Day really means. Sprinkled throughout was the eternal adage that freedom is not free. Truncated versions of their words are offered here.

Gary spoke of the beginnings of Memorial Day and its roots in D-Day June 6, 1944, and the dwindling number of living World War II veterans. She noted more than 4,400 Allied troops were killed on that day, including more than 2,500 Americans.

“Memorial Day is an occasion for both grief and celebration, reflecting on tragic loss of life, and recounting the courageousness of military service,” Gary said. “For those who have served, the day holds the utmost significance, while giving our country the opportunity to pay tribute and remember the lives that have been lost in the defense of our nation … As we prepare to commemorate on the 80th anniversary of the operation, let us remember that the remaining survivors of that battle and war – some of whom were teenagers at the time – are now approaching or surpass 100 years old. Their bravery and heroism displayed on the beaches of Normandy is the stuff of legend. Their selfless desire to serve and willingness to sacrifice their lives to defend our nation is a debt we can never repay … This year, let’s keep the World War II veterans in our hearts and minds; as their numbers dwindle, it is up to us to capture and tell their stories and ensure that their memories live on.”

Prato welcomed attendees on behalf of American Legion Post 404 and Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1047. In his address, the topic of focus was support of those left behind.

“From our founding Revolution to today’s global War on Terrorism, nearly one million men and women in the armed forces have sacrificed their lives while defending America in time of war,” Prato said. “We can best honor their sacrifice by remembering their families who have lost so much. Long after the battlefield guns have stopped and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners, parents will continue to grief for their heroic sons and daughters – that died way too early. Nobody can replace these fallen heroes, especially in the eyes of their family, but we can offer shoulders to cry on. And we can assure that their loved one’s sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Taylor’s address was expansive, yet spoke to the basic core of the day as an opportunity to celebrate and honor the many military men and women who died while protecting this nation.

“As we take this day to give thanks to them and finally contemplate their ultimate sacrifice, we realize how markedly inadequate our attempt to pay tribute to them really is,” Taylor said. “There are no words that can properly reflect the magnitude of what their sacrifice has meant to our nation, and the amount of love, respect and honor that we hold deep in our hearts for them.

‘Our intent today is not to speak on the glory of battle or pay homage to heroes or icons, but to reflect on the persons behind the deed and remember all of our fallen comrade. For they actually were people just like us; they were fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends – all of whom held true to the values upon which this great land was founded and shared a common belief in freedom, justice and liberty. It is our duty to remember their sacrifice and keep their memory alive.”

In his presentation, Sentz focused on remembering who the fallen veterans were, not solely as service members, but also as the whole persons they were.

“Each fallen soldier has a story, a purpose, a love for their country that transcends all else,” he said. “They answered the call to duty without hesitation, knowing full well the risks they faced.” Sentz then cited a story told by Ronald Regan of a soldier who went to France in World War I, was killed, and on whose body was found a diary which itemized his commitment to his duty and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.

“This is the whole core of what they knew they signed up for when entering military service,” he said. “They all knew it could mean giving their lives up for our nation. Their courage, their selflessness and their unwavering commitment to duty inspire us all. They remind us that freedom is never free, and it comes with a great cost – but it is a cost they were willing to pay. For they understood the importance of defending liberty and justice of all … As we bow our heads in remembrance, let us renew our commitment to honoring the legacy of the fallen. Let us strive to live lives worthy of their sacrifice, to uphold the values they fought to protect, and to ensure their memories live on in our hearts and in our nation … Thank you for all who have served, thank you for those who continue to serve, and the families who have given so much.”

After the speakers finished came the placing of Memorial Wreaths: Gabe Ambrozaitis for the Veterans of Foreign War and Dale Tritten for the American Legion. That was followed by the playing of “Taps” with all standing in honor.

After Retiring of the Colors, attendees were thanked for their attendance and invited to partake in a luncheon at American Legion Post 404.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here