A cool wind gust lifted the words “Let Freedom Ring,” sung by Yvonne Cushenberry of Durham, over a hushed crowd Monday at Hillsboro’s Memorial Park as people gathered along the flag-lined drive to remember the sacrifice of military service men and women.
“We try to come every year,” Bonnie Funk of Hillsboro said. “My dad, Mike Schafer, was a WWI veteran, and my husband, Ken, was a veteran of the Korean War. We appreciate so much what they do here.”
Red, white, and blue flags flown against overcast skies, created a mood for reflection, as Color Guard Marines Dave Dalme of Herington, Josh Plenert and Roger Sinclair of Hillsboro, and Claude Landis of Marion stepped into place with rifles and flags.
Speaker Kansas Senator Vicki Schmidt encouraged those in attendance to not only reflect and remember the service of American soldiers, but to take action.
“Attend a ceremony such as this, lay a flag at a cemetery, pause to remember those who have made such a great sacrifice,” Schmidt said. “Enjoy your freedom, teach your children and others to have respect, courage, and honor — the things that point to a veteran.”
Schmidt noted that Memorial Day received official congressional designation in 1957. She said it was meant to be a day of solemn celebration. She expounded that Americans should use the holiday as a reminder to find common ground, despite political and socio-economical diversity.
“We can honor the dead by honoring and supporting the living,” Schmidt said. “We need to look ahead to the future and get involved with educating ourselves and our children about our government. We also need to support and provide opportunities for our veterans still returning.”
Hillsboro American Legion Post 356 members ceremonially read the names of area veterans who had passed, and then Sergeant in Arms Mel Ratzlaff laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Following the traditional firing squad salute, Lewis Hagen played the stirring “Taps” melody on his silver trumpet, ending the 2013 Memorial Day ceremony just as scattered raindrops began to fall.