The meaning of Memorial Day

Published 11:58 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day is coming and that means hot dogs, brats and hamburgers.

And one more thing: America’s veterans.

The arrival of the first holiday of summer always threatens to skewer the true meaning of Memorial Day.

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It is, first and foremost, an opportunity to honor the nation’s war dead.

If Thanksgiving Day is a day to pause and give thanks for the things Americans have, Memorial Day is the day to pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things Americans have.

Los Kaput, Lyle, knows this to be true.

She attended the First District American Legion Family Memorial Service Saturday, May 16.

It was a solemn affair. “No applause” was requested throughout the tribute to veterans and their families, according to Kaput.

She came home with James A. Norway’s poem still echoing: “Heaven’s full of heroes, who sacrificed their lives. In service to our country, so that liberty survives.”

According to Kaput, that’s what Memorial Day is about.

Of course, the first summer holiday is so enveloped in the giddiness of celebration that holding on to the solemnity of the occasion is sometimes hard.

Cheryl Sprout tackled that issue in another poem.

Sprat wrote: “If we don’t share what we know while we have the chance, who’ll teach the paths that warriors dance?

“A life without purpose is no life at all.

“They’ll have to know what they stand for, if they’re going to stand tall.

“If we don’t take the time to pass this legacy on, then who will fold the flag when the last veteran is gone?”

On Memorial Day, Mower County’s veterans will stand tall at cemeteries everywhere, passing the legacy on.

One color guard, 13 cemeteries

Grand Meadow’s Harry T. Anderson American Legion Post No. 140 will visit no less than 13 cemeteries Memorial Day.

“It’s always a very busy day for us,” sad Cdr. Lee Ottoman.

The 13 cemetery visits is more than any other American Legion post makes on Memorial Day, according to Ottoman.

There will be a parade in Austin, flag-raisings, programs, speeches and patriotic music, 21 gun salutes and wreaths tossed into the water to honor those veterans who died at sea.

Avenues of flags will welcome all to cemeteries.

Other cemeteries will welcome visitors in silence: The wind blowing over the prairie the only serenade for veterans buried beneath the ground and out of the public’s limelight.

Color guards will unfurl flags and bands will march.

Older veterans will try to keep up with their younger counterparts at the head of the parade.

Little children will clutch their parents’ hands, when the firing squad points their guns skyward and fires.

Adults will blink back tears when a trumpet plays the soulful “Taps.”

Memorial Day is like no other summer holiday with or without hot dogs, brats and hamburgers.

Just ask a veteran.

Here are the area’s Memorial Day schedules:

Austin Legion, VFW

Flag-raisings will start Memorial Day in the county seat, beginning at 6:50 a.m. at American Legion Post No. 91 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1216.

Breakfast will be served 7 a.m. at Post No. 91.

Another flag-raising will take place 8:05 a.m. Monday at the Mower County Veterans Memorial on the northwest corner of courthouse square, where a brief patriotic program will be held afterward.

The annual Memorial Day parade will forum up beginning 8:30 a.m. at the VFW hall, 300 Fourth Ave. N.E., and move westward to North Main Street before turning south and proceeding to First Avenue Northeast and then heading east to the Salvation Army Austin Corps before terminating.

A special program will take place at 9:30 a.m. Monday at Oakwood Cemetery.

There will be special services at the Horace Austin Park north bridge at 10 a.m. to honor those veterans buried at sea.

The American Legion and VFW color guards will visit Grandview and Calvary cemeteries, 11 a.m.; Enterprise and Lansing cemeteries, 11:30 a.m.; and Midway/Oakland cemetery, noon (VFW).

Adams Post No. 146

ADAMS — American Legion Post No. 146 will have its popular Veterans Museum open Memorial Day at post headquarters.

The Legion Post will start Memorial Day beginning at 9 a.m. at the bridge along Mower County No 7 south of the community, where it will honor those veterans buried at sea.

Then, the Color Guard will visit: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church cemetery, Johnsburg, 9:30 a.m.; St. Peter’s Catholic Church cemetery, Rose Creek, 10:15 a.m.; Little Cedar Lutheran Church cemetery, 11 a.m.; and Sacred Heart Catholic Church cemetery, Adams, 11:45 a.m.

Lunch will be served at Post No. 146’s headquarters afterward.

A flag-retirement ceremony will also be held at the Legion Post.

Blooming Prairie vets hold program

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — Memorial Day begins with coffee and cookies at 9 a.m. at the Servicemen’s Club.

The lineup for the annual Memorial Day parade begins at 10 a.m. at the club.

Marchers will parade to Blooming Prairie City Cemetery at 10:30 a.m.

Guest speaker for the program will be Harlan Buck, who will address the crowd beginning at 11 a.m.

Buck is a Korean War veteran from the U.S. Army, who is a life member of Hayfield American Legion Post No. 330.

He was the organizer of Post No. 330’s successful campaign to have a veterans memorial constructed in Hayfield City Park.

He also belongs to Blooming Prairie Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1216.

Grand Meadow Post No. 140

GRAND MEADOW — Harry T. Anderson American Legion Post No. 140 has an “extra special” Memorial Day planned.

Post No. 140 plans to hold groundbreaking for its new veterans memorial project at 3 p.m. Monday.

The post’s color guard will visit the following cemeteries: Immanuel Lutheran and Pleasant Valley Lutheran, 8 a.m.; St. John’s, 8:15 a.m.; Racine/Salem, 8:35 a.m.; Sumner, 8:50 a.m.; Hamilton, 9:10 a.m.; Frankford, 9:25 a.m.; Bear Creek, 9:40 a.m.; program at Grand Meadow Public Schools, 10:15 a.m.; Grand Meadow, 11:15 a.m.; St. Finbaar’s Catholic Church cemetery, 11:30 a.m.; Dexter, 11:45 a.m.; Zion Lutheran, 12:05 a.m.; Trinity Evangelical, 12:30 a.m.; Hoflanda, 12:45 a.m.; and 3 p.m., back to Grand Meadow for the memorial groundbreaking.

Reynolds guest


HAYFIELD — Rothie Post No. 330 of the American Legion will render honors to the nation’s veterans Memorial Day with cemetery visits and a program at Hayfield Veterans Memorial.

Staff Sgt. Vince Reynolds will be the guest speaker at the Memorial Day program.

Post No. 330’s veterans will start the day at 8:05 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church cemetery, rural Waltham.

The rest of the schedule includes: 8:25 a.m., St. Michael’s cemetery, rural Waltham; 8:50 a.m., Greenwood cemetery, rural Brownsdale; 9:15 a.m., Waltham Cemetery, south of Waltham; 9:35 a.m., St. John’s cemetery, south of Sargeant; 10:10 a.m., Evanger cemetery; 10:25 a.m., West St. Olaf cemetery; 11:10 a.m., Fairview cemetery, Hayfield; 11:30 a.m., Memorial Day program at Hayfield Veterans Memorial Park in Hayfield.

Chicken dinner will be held at Post No. 330 afterward from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $7.50 for adults and $4 for those 12 and younger.

Friends and relatives of Post No. 330 veterans are invited.

Lyle Post No. 105

LYLE — American Legion Post No. 105 will render honors to the nation’s veterans Monday, Memorial Day.

According to Cdr. Galen Holst, the Memorial Day schedule includes the following cemetery visits:

9 a.m., Cedar City; 9:30 a.m., London; 10 a.m., Deer Creek; 10:30 a.m., Woodbury; 11 a.m., Mona; and 11:30 a.m., Six Mile Grove.

After graveside services at Six Mile Grove Cemetery, the public is invited to join the post’s firing squad members for lunch in the church.

Stacyville Post No. 569

STACYVILLE, Iowa — Hale Penny Fuller American Legion Post No. 569 will start Memorial Day at Visitation Catholic Church for an 8 a.m. Mass.

The rest of the day’s schedule includes: 8:45 a.m., Visitation Catholic Church cemetery; 9 a.m.,, Stacyville Legion Hall for coffee and donuts; 9:45 a.m., Riverside Park to honor all veterans buried at sea; 10:15 a.m., Sacred Heart Catholic Church cemetery, Meyer, Iowa; 10:30 a.m., St. Patrick’s cemetery, Wapsie; 11 a.m., Little Cedar cemetery, 11:30 a.m., Union Presbyterian Church cemetery, where a special 10:30 a.m. worship service will be held for the public; noon, Stacyville cemetery, founded 1857 and burial place of Hale Penny Fuller; 12:30 p.m., return to Stacyville Legion Hall to honor 50- and 60-year members of Post No. 560 with potluck lunch to follow.