Austin gearing up to honor veterans

Published 7:15 am Sunday, May 25, 2014

The American Legion Post 91 color guard marches in the Memorial Day Parade last year. Herald file photo

The American Legion Post 91 color guard marches in the Memorial Day Parade last year. Herald file photo

ah.06.25.aMower County is getting ready to honor those who helped secure America’s freedom Monday.

Annual services for Memorial Day, a holiday that dates to 1865, are set in Austin and other communities to honor those who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

“It’s such a patriotic thing to recognize that people have made the supreme sacrifice,” said Norm Hecimovich, president of Austin’s Memorial Day Committee.

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But it’s not just the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice, as Hecimovich said all veterans deserve recognition.

“Our freedom is based on all these people who have served their country,” he said.

In Austin, the day begins with a 6:50 a.m. flag raising at the VFW and American Legion and a 7 a.m. breakfast at the VFW. The committee will raise the flag and host a program at the Veterans Memorial at 7:45 a.m.

The parade lines up at 8:30 a.m., begins at 8:45 a.m. and runs from the VFW west on Fourth Avenue NE to Main Street, then goes east on Second Avenue before ending at the VFW.

The Memorial Day service at Oakwood Cemetery will be held at 9:30 a.m.

The National Weather Service out of La Crosse, Wis., forecasted a chance of storms Monday, but services will continue unless there’s lightning or downpours, according to Hecimovich.

Hecimovich said the Mower County Veterans Memorial on the lawn of the Government Center is an asset to the community, honoring veterans as far back as the Civil War. To date, 958 pavers have sold — close to the original 1,056 goal. Pavers are still for sale, and Hecimovich hopes they always will be.

“I hope that we never quit this thing,” he said. “As long as there are veterans around, they should have the opportunity to be honored.”

Mower County has been fortunate to not lose a soldier in Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom or the War in Afghanistan according to Hecimovich.

Hecimovich served more than 42 years U.S. Army — both active and in reserves — in Korea, Germany, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Panama. He’s also adjutant of the VFW, trustee of the DAV and past commander of the VFW, Legion and DAV.