WHEATLAND - What does it mean to be “free”? Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
At the end of the Civil War in 1865, the United States lost more lives on American soil which then led to the establishment of the nation’s first national cemetery, known as Arlington Cemetery. In May of 1868, both union and confederate states wanted to remember those soldiers who perished in the civil war by decorating the Arlington graves sites and other town gravesites of service men with flowers, personal mementos, banners, and flags. These events would be later known as, “Decoration Day” named by General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans.
In 1939, fearlessly joining together; both Union and Confederate soldiers found themselves protecting America as a whole in World War I, courageously fighting against Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. This war would ignite such a loss as a whole country (versus Union states against Confederate states) that “Decoration Day” would be later (1971) become known as “Memorial Day” to honor all military personnel who gave the ultimate sacrifice and lost their life in all wars such as; World War II, Korean, and the Vietnam war.
The 4-H building was jam-packed (standing room only), filled with families young and old, saluting Boy Scouts and Veterans representing every branch of the military while the town of Wheatland remembered, celebrated, and honored our hometown heroes. Those remembered heroes have served, protected, and lost their life so that we can live in a country that is free to make decisions, freedom to rights that other countries do not recognize and freedom to make our country the safest to live in.
Our Memorial Day was celebrated with the raising of the flag by Darrell Curry, Commander, VFW Post 10, and Rod Birkle, Commander, VFW Post 3558. National Anthem sang by Cindy Geile and the West Elementary Singers, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Invocation by Father Tom Kadera from the Saint Patrick’s Church and Post 10 Chaplain. Ed Meyer, Lt Col, USAF (Ret) spoke about the ultimate sacrifice, bravery, valor, dedication, and honor of all military personal. The Geile family performed many special musical numbers that included, “America the Beautiful” and “The Wall.” Poems, “In Flanders Fields” and “Response to Flanders Fields” read by the 2019 American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State Delegates, Brooke May and Claire Peasley.
Ruth Herdt, President of the VFW 3558 Auxiliary and Linda Virant, President, American Legion Post 10 Auxiliary, performed the laying of wreaths. Roll call of the 2018/2019 deceased veterans was read by Curry and Birkle. The ceremony was closed with a benediction from Father Kadera, then a rifle salute (three volleys) and Taps performed by Lloyd Koerwitz. Sound was provided by Justin Herdt, DK Magik. Complimentary baked goods were brought by the VFW Auxiliary and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
In attendance was Judy Glass who lost a nephew in Vietnam. Her husband served 23 years total with 16 years in the Air Force and seven in the Army.
“I have five brothers, all who served in different branches. It is important for me to be here today to pay tribute to all service members, including my family members whom I am so proud of,” said Glass.
“My Grandpa Floth served in the Army, and my Uncle McCintosh in Vietnam. They dedicated their lives to serve and protect us so that we may live in freedom today,” said Christina Lambert, VFW Auxiliary secretary and treasurer.
The Memorial Day service was the exact definition of what a small, hometown spirit is all about...remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in the name of freedom.