MARSHALL - Freedom isn't free, speakers said at the Memorial Day program Monday at Liberty Park in Marshall. In reality, countless servicemen and servicewomen have sacrificed in the name of freedom for the American nation.
Some gave the ultimate sacrifice - their life - and for that reason, speakers said, they deserve to be honored on this special day.
"Today, we have the task of honoring Americans who sacrificed their lives for our freedom," retired Lieutenant Col. Bill Palmer said during the Memorial Address. "And the cost of our freedoms, they are not free. It was purchased with hard work, blood and lives."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Members of the American Legion Marshall Post 113 salute the memory of fallen servicemembers during the Roll of the Dead on Monday at the Memorial Day program at Liberty Park in Marshall. See more photos at cu.marshallindependent.com
Palmer said that in the past year, he'd suffered the loss of someone very close to him - his own father, Donald Palmer, a World War II veteran. Even though his dad wore the "wrong uniform," Palmer joked, his dad was a good guy.
"My dad was a Navy guy," Bill Palmer said. "I'm dedicating my speech to him."
More than 650,000 American servicemen and women have died during wartime, Palmer said of the United States' 236-year history. Another 539,000 military personnel have died in non-combat duty.
"Over 6,400 American names from recent wars all over the world have also been added to the list of 650,000 others who lost their lives," Palmer said. "These people answered the nation's call to honor the Constitution of the United States."
Palmer praised the courage of young men and women for their dedication of service and sacrifice.
"Young Americans take an oath to obey military order," he said. "They give up some of their freedom to secure our freedoms. They're told what to wear, where to live and what to do for work. And they're told when and where they'll get a break from that."
When situations become dangerous or extremely difficult, he said, the servicemember isn't allowed to just go home. They are required to do as asked, which may involve unnatural acts such as killing someone during wartime.
"They give a large part of themselves over to the nation," Palmer said. "They don't want to die and it's not their choice to go to war. But they volunteered their service and some sons and daughters who took that oath died in service on our behalf."
During his address, Palmer read off the names of the most-recent fallen soldiers, including national guardsman Jason Timmerman.
"There's a heavy cost to our own community," Palmer said. "It's a debt we can't repay, but we can gather together in remembrance."
Marshall resident Art Cadwell came to the Memorial Day service to pay tribute to servicemembers. He also wanted to hear Palmer speak.
"I came because I'm a veteran," he said. "(Servicemembers) put up with more than we realize. But if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be where we are. So it's a good day to recognize their sacrifice."
Cadwell served in the United States Air Force during the Korean conflict, including two-and-a-half years in Japan.
"I felt it was my duty to sacrifice," Cadwell said. "The good part was that I was able to come home. I didn't sacrifice as much as some did."
Marshall VFW commander Jes Mellenthin pointed out that Memorial Day is a time for decorating graves of departed comrades.
"It's about the observance of our heroic dead," he said of the fallen soldiers, sailors and marines.
Jeff Gay, American Legion commander for Marshall Post No. 113, gave the Grand Army of the Republic Orders of the Day before thanking the many people in attendance for paying their respects. Then, with the assistance of servicemen Ryan Brunsvold and Cody Schneekloth, Gay revealed the 12 folds of the flag.
"Each fold has a different definition," Gay said. "We thought it would be neat if people left with more knowledge than they came with."
After Emily Weidauer-Dorschner lead the audience in the singing of "America the Beautiful," the Roll of the Dead was called. Marshall area Girl Scouts Katlyn Beebout, Tawnni Slagel and Kelsey Beebout and Troop 238 Boy Scouts Josh Hansen, Tyler Matson and Caleb Hansen assisted in recognizing American veterans who had died in the past year by placing a flag atop of a white cross in their honor.
"It's a day to take remembrance of those who have gone before us," Father Paul Wolf said.
Wolf offered prayers during the program, including one asking God for peach and tranquility for the nation, especially on this day.