A weekend of grads and flag-waving

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2001

Whatta weekend .

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Whatta weekend … high school graduation and lessons in Americanism.

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I remember when Dillon Denisen was a little boy no bigger than the sheep he showed at the Mower County Fair.

Today, he is valedictorian of the Grand Meadow High School graduating class of 2001 and about to rule the world with all the other members of the classes of 2001.

I remember when Jared Koopal and his lookalike brother showed rabbits at the county fair.

Why, I remember when Kathryn Rose Lammers was "Katie Lammers," a cute-as-a-button little girl in the 4-H Fashion Show at the county fair.

I even remember when Ben Reburn was shorter than his parents.

My, oh, my, how the time flies and boys and girls become young men and women in a hurry.

The Memorial Day weekend has become a favorite of mine, because of four high school commencements and Monday activities to honor war dead.

Beginning Friday night at Grand Meadow with Al Carlson shaking the hands of every senior about to receive a diploma on their way into the gym and concluding Sunday afternoon outside LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools in LeRoy, it’s just about as good as it gets in the spring.

In between, there’s a dash – within the speed limit – across Mower County from Grand Meadow to Lyle to see their Friday night commencement.

I got slimed one year at Lyle by one of the Mudra girls and loved every minute of it.

Next year, I’ll go to LeRoy-Ostrander first, because they have fewer graduates than Southland. Last Sunday, I started the day at Southland in Adams, left at the end of the presentation of scholarships and arrived at LeRoy-Ostrander just as the class of 2001 was lining up outside the school building to accept congratulations.

Southland is unique in so many ways not the least of which is how close the school district’s students and their families are.

When the scholarships are announced, you learn quickly how this district cares about its own.

There are so many – make that too many – memorial scholarships for students who have died.

That several of the deaths have occurred in the lifetime of members of the graduating class makes it even sadder.

It’s hard not to care about the young men and women wearing the Rebels’ red, blue and silver colors in a school district that has known more than its share of sorrows.

My sincere congratulations to all the graduates!

Austin’s veterans organizations does their comrades proud each Memorial Day with solemn observances for those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

It makes you feel good to attend a flag-raising, the parade or the Oakwood Cemetery ceremonies.

With two granddaughters in tow, I also visited LeRoy for American Legion Post No. 161’s own salute to the war dead Monday.

Pound for pound, Harlan and Maggie Boe are more patriotic than any other couple when they’re wearing their matching red, white and blue stars-and-stripes shirts.

Then, the granddaughters and I finished Memorial Day at Union Presbyterian Church northwest of Stacyville, Iowa.

The little ones had their share of punch and cookies, while Yours Truly got an earful from the proud folks who call this church their own.

Don and Dona Ziegler deserve a statue on the front lawn for all they do to preserve this country church on the National Register of Historic Places. So do Dale and Theresa Mauer.

Fred Bissen, who isn’t a member, but who also respects history, set the story straight by telling me Jacob Decker, who donated the land for the church, and his son, George, and grandson, Burton, also were responsible for there even being a Union Presbyterian Church in the middle of a farmfield in Mitchell County, Iowa.

And, I would rank chaplain Walt Adams and the firing squad and color guard of Stacyville American Legion Post No. 569 among the best I’ve seen.

Until you’ve stood in the middle of a county church cemetery with blue skies, green grass and yellow sunshine, Old Glory waving in the wind and listened to the estimable Mr. Adams read the poem "I gave my life so you could be free," you don’t know why some of us get goose bumps on Memorial Day.

Lee Bonorden’s column appears Thursdays. Call him at 434-2232 or e-mail him at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com.