By Joe Bachman
Over a hundred residents gave their respects on Monday afternoon in observance of military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Forest Hill Cemetery held a Memorial Day ceremony, hosted by the Disabled America Veterans Chapter 55 of Wisconsin Rapids.
The Assumption High School Band set the tone for what would be a patriotic and honorable ceremony, followed by poetry readings from Immanuel Lutheran Students, and awarding special lapel pins for Vietnam veterans. The wreath ceremony was led by veteran Don Weis, of Port Edwards, to commemorate the observance of Memorial Day.
The highlight of the event, however, was guest speaker Brigadier General Mark Anderson.
“This should be a day to express appreciation for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and to honor our fallen warriors simply by not forgetting them,” said Anderson. “Our freedom in this country comes with a price, and it is paid for by soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, merchant marines, and coast-guardsmen, who defend her everyday whether in peace, or in war.”
According to the University of California Santa-Barbara, more than 42 million Americans have served in times of war, with 1.2 million giving their lives in that duration, with half of that amount coming in battle. Over 775,000 Wisconsinites have served in America’s wars, with over 27,000 who have died in military service.
However, statistics, according to Anderson, is not the true message on this day.
“These are just numbers — cold, mathematical expressions that can’t communicate the qualities of men and women whose promising lives were cut short,” said Anderson. “They say nothing about the unfulfilled hopes and dreams of those who perished. The numbers reveal no flesh, no blood, no faces.”
The ceremony closed with a three-volley salute and a prayer for the fallen.