While Memorial Day is the day to pay tribute to those who have served the United States and have gone before us, it’s never a bad day to thank a veteran. I hope, if you went to an area Memorial Day service Monday, you were moved to do that — to take some time to say thanks.
We were able to get to two Memorial Day services this year, in Greenfield and Fontanelle. Both were wonderful services. The number of crosses — I believe there are around 700 of them — in the sunken garden of the Greenfield Cemetery is a stirring sight. Just as stirring are the poppies placed on them during the service, then Taps was played wonderfully by one of our local high school musicians. Pat Westphal, though not a veteran, a member of the Sons of the American Legion, gave a great speech.
So did Dean Griffith, Sr. at Fontanelle’s service. A Navy veteran, Griffith outlined what it’s like to be a part of the American Legion on a local small town level. They honor veterans who pass away by giving them the military rites they deserve at their funeral. They oversee the veterans memorial on the Greenfield square. They give scholarship money to local students going on to college. I’m sure I’m missing a lot, but you get the point, that they do a lot for and in our communities.
Griffith shared how he goes about helping place the flags in the cemetery. Like Greenfield and other locations, there’s a veteran each of those flags represents. For instance, in Fontanelle, flags were added to the Avenue of Flags for Steve Bakerink and Tom Lamborn.
Griffith said he takes his time getting the flags out on Memorial Day each year. He spends time with them, knowing behind each one is a man or woman who gave a lot, and there’s a story that goes along with their life and their service. He salutes each one after placing it. Many volunteers take the time to put the flags up and take them down. Their work didn’t go unnoticed.
These veterans deserve to be remembered and honored. I enjoyed hearing all the names and stories Monday.
Afterward, we went to see my grandpa in Atlantic. He served as military police during the Korean War era in Germany. Though it’s not the day to thank a veteran for their service on Memorial Day, it was a blessing to be able to spend time with him. If you were to chat with a veteran, I bet most of them would give you a more upbeat view on life than what the cartoon on this page depicts. My grandpa certainly does.