Beautiful, summer-like weather – warm and humid, but with a bit of breeze – greeted those who turned out Monday (May 28) for activities in Three Rivers to honor military Veterans and mark Memorial Day 2012.
The observance – traditional and patriotic in nature – included a parade that moved through the downtown area, then traveled eastward to Riverside Cemetery after a stop at the bridge over the Portage River to honor those lost at sea.
Chaplain Bill Stevens of Hice-Shutes American Legion Post 170 in Three Rivers served as master of ceremonies for the program held in the Veterans area near the entrance to the cemetery, a commemoration that was a little over a half-hour in length. He welcomed those in attendance and said, “We’re here to honor all those who went on before us and all the Veterans that survive.”
The raising of the United States flag, playing of the National Anthem by the Three Rivers High School Wildcat Marching Band, Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, an invocation by Chaplain Stevens, and a floral presentation by the Poppy Queen were among the opening aspects of the Memorial Day program.
The event included presentations by TWO featured speakers – state Senator Bruce Caswell and Regent Rebecca Shank of the Abiel Fellows Chapter/Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Caswell began his address with a quote from Thomas Paine from September of 1777: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Caswell said, “We’re here today to acknowledge those who, in fact, underwent the fatigues of supporting freedom.” And he said, “Each generation must preserve its own liberty. Each generation must meet its own challenges to our freedom. There is never a ‘how to’ book to follow. Each challenge Is different.”
Caswell’s presentation was highlighted by the story of Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a United States Marine who was killed in action during the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq in November of 2004. His closing remarks included a quote from James Bradley in his book, Flags of Our Fathers, words inscribed over a cemetery gate: “When you go home today, tell this for us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.” (Bruce Caswell audio clip – :57)
Shank opened her speech by quoting from the Preamble to the United States Constitution. She closed by noting the sacrifices that Americans have made in the cause of freedom since 1775 and dedicated a wreath from the local DAR chapter “to the memory of our war dead and all Americans who serve us in the cause of freedom.” (Rebecca Shank audio clip – 1:12)
The program also featured Commandant Larry Fitch of the newly-formed Marine Corps League of St. Joseph County reading the names of veterans of local veterans who died during the last year, Pam Clark playing a bagpipe solo of Amazing Grace, and a benediction offered by Chaplain Bill Stevens. Stevens also thanked those who participated in the Memorial Day observance.
To hear the Memorial Day program held in Riverside Cemetery, click here (31:44 – 29 MB).