WILLMAR -- While many Americans celebrated Memorial Day barbequing, golfing or just enjoying a day off of work, a large crowd gathered under perfect spring skies Monday at Fairview Cemetery in Willmar to pay their respects to veterans.
"It is the right place to be and the right thing to do on this one day of the year," said Dale Wittrock. "This is what Memorial Day is all about."
The VFW national officer from Davenport, Neb., provided the memorial address during the hour-long service that included the traditional readings of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the poem "In Flanders Fields" and General Logan's 1868 order setting aside May 30 as a day to honor fallen soldiers
Too many people take the holiday -- and veterans -- for granted, said Wittrock.
It is solders who answered the call of duty to fight for our freedom because "they knew it was the right thing to do."
When you go to bed at night, said Wittrock, a soldier is "standing guard" to make sure those freedoms are still there in the morning.
Freedom never has been free and never will be free, said Wittrock. The fallen soldiers didn't get a chance to enjoy that freedom but they gave it to other Americans to enjoy. And for that Americans should honor them, he said.
"The word memorial needs to be put back into Memorial Day."
"Take a little time," he said, encouraging people to shake the hand of a veteran and tell them "thanks for what you did."