Memorial Day for remembering sacrifice of veterans
WILLMAR — A crowd gathered amongst the shade trees and grave markers, the Willmar High School band played the Star-Spangled Banner, the honor guard smartly fired the 21-gun salute and the names of military veterans killed in action and recently deceased were read.
Thus, the Willmar community marked another Memorial Day with the annual service at Fairview Cemetery, replete with flags, speeches and solemn silence.
“Memorial Day is much more than the first day of summer,” the Rev. Dean Johnson noted in his address, thanking veterans and their families from the larger Willmar community and Kandiyohi County.
Johnson, retired brigadier general for the Army National Guard and pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar, used statistics, both historical and very current, to illustrate the sacrifices veterans have made, with their lives and their service to the country.
A total of 1.2 million soldiers have died since the Revolutionary War through the recent and current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total includes 4,400 dead in the Revolutionary War, 500,000 in the Civil War, 116,000 in World War I, 405,000 in World War II, 54,000 in Korea, 90,000 in Vietnam and 6,500 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Johnson further used statistics to show the impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on our country, even as the conflict continues in Afghanistan, with 2.6 million people deployed over the 13 years since Sept. 11, 2001. That includes 32,000 Minnesotans.
“On Memorial Day 2014, we pause and say ‘thank you,’” Johnson told the crowd. “It was these men and women who made our country what it is today.”