Memorial Day events bring pride

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Members of the American Legion Color Guard wait for the Memorial Day Flag Raising service to begin at the Veteran's Memorial in Austin.

As veterans watched with pride, flags rose up across Mower County Monday morning, cresting at the tops of flagpoles before falling to half-mast. The half-mast flags served as a reminder of Memorial Day, an event gaining popularity in Austin and around Mower County, according to Norm Hecimovich, head of the Veteran’s Memorial Committee.

“It’s so important as a country that we pull together,” Hecimovich said during the flag raising ceremony at Austin’s Veteran’s Memorial Monday. “It’s very important.”

The crowd gathered at Fourth Avenue and Main Street N. claps for the American Legion Post 91 Color Guard during Austin's Memorial Day Parade.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who’ve served, as men like John Munson has. Munson served as part of the Army’s 332nd Communication Reconnaissance Company in Germany during the Korean War, performing communications services and monitoring communications, which are still secret to this day.

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“You don’t really realize what these men gave up for us,” said his daughter Julie Guckeen. “Not only the men but the families, the families that stayed back suffered as well.”

Munson’s children bought a memorial paver to be installed at the Veteran’s Memorial to honor him. To Munson, the day’s ceremonies are important for those who’ve served.

“The people they’re honoring deserve it,” he said.

It’s a time for one mother to be thankful for her sons. Jan Kennedy watched the Memorial Day Parade in Austin, giving thanks for her sons Mark and Patrick’s safety.

Both men went into the National Guard and served in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. Mark was called up once more to serve in Kosovo. Patrick was recently discharged and Mark is currently attending school thanks to National Guard benefits.

“They’re both out of the service now, so I can sleep better at night,” Kennedy said.

Norm Hecimovich, right, watches and salutes along with other veterans during the Memorial Day program at Austin's Veteran's Memorial.

Memorial Day is a time to learn about service and sacrifice, as Justin Farnsworth did. Farnsworth, a fifth-grade Boy Scout, marched in the parade.

“It’s an opportunity to teach him that this country is built on soldiers that gave their lives,” said Jusin’s father, Pat.

It’s an opportunity to secure tradition, as Lavonne and Bertie Ferguson know. Bertie served in the Navy during the Korean War and the Fergusons watch the Memorial Day Parade every year.

“It’s the proper thing to do,” Lavonne said. “People should recognize it.”

It’s also a time to recognize people, like Lavonne’s father, who served in World War II, or Jerry Werner’s husband, Donald, who also served in the military and has since passed. It’s their willingness to make sacrifices that should be remembered, according to residents.

“We’re lucky to be living here,” Jerry said.

Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts carried flags for the Memorial Day Parade.