More than 125 people attended Monday’s Memorial Day service in Hillsboro with U.S. Navy Commander Don Dahl serving as this year’s speaker.
In his remarks, Dahl spoke of America being at a crossroad.
He talked about how he believes Americans are marching at a steadily increasing pace to rescind God’s blessings and to incur his wrath.
“How can we keep from collapsing when our foundation is crumbling?” he asked.
Citing examples, Dahl said most people are standing idly by as prayer is removed from classrooms, nativity scenes are removed from public places and filth and smut is allowed on the airways and in public libraries.
“Attempts are made to remove God from coins, swearing-in oaths and from the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said. “A mockery is made of marriage and now even Christmas is referred to as ‘the winter holiday.’”
Dahl added that it is through successive generations, the principles of morality, spirituality, patriotism, faith in a supreme being, self-reliance, worth ethic and individual sacrifice are fading.
“Principles that sustained us through wars and depressions are now being sacrificed on the alter of selfishness, greed and instant gratification,” he said.
During his 15-minute address, he said he fears Americans are being blinded by a fog of self-centeredness.
“We are now reaping the fruits of the ‘I’d rather be Red then dead’ crowd,” he said.
“The hippie generation has given birth to the ‘me’ generation—everything is about me and revolves around me.”
Dahl asked everyone if they have ever heard anyone say: “I want, give me, what’s in it for me, I don’t care about you as long as I get mine, these are my rights, I am entitled.”
The “me” generation, he said, wants the government to reward everyone equally, regardless of whether one sleeps or slumbers.
He challenged others to compare this attitude with the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
“These men were willing to give up their wealth, families ad position in life for freedom,” he said.
“If they succeeded, the best they could hope for would be years of hardship building up a new nation. If they failed, they would all face the hangman’s noose as traitors.”
History, he said, shows that these brave men fulfilled their pledge and most paid dearly for it, but subsequently a great nation was born.
Referring to a Scottish professor in the 1700s named Alexander Tyler, Dahl said the man conducted a study of major civilizations and how they only lasted about 200 years.
According to Tyler’s study, he said, these civilizations went through the following sequences.
“They went from bondage to spiritual faith,” Dahl explained, “and from spiritual faith to great courage; from great courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence and from dependence to bondage.”
Dahl queried: “I ask you, look around, where do you think we, as the United States are?”
Many scholars, he said, believe the U.S. is at the apathy stage.
“But then again, who cares?” he said.
Dahl said he believes the U.S. is embroiled in a cultural war.
“As I said, we are at a crossroad—what direction will we take, not only as a country, but as individuals.”
Dahl said it could be the wide and easy road—the selfish road without responsibility and self-discipline.
“The road without God to guide us will eventually lead to destruction, and I guarantee you that those we honor here today did not travel down that road.”
As a final thought, Dahl said he hoped the spirit of liberty be renewed in everyone’s mind and heart today.
“This would be a fitting tribute to those men and women, who down through the history of our country, paid with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor,” he said.
“Down through our country’s illustrious history,” Dahl said, “hundreds of thousands of (men and women) preserved our freedom and, shortly many of them will be recognized here at this ceremony.”
Following his address, Kathy Carr, American Legion Auxiliary chaplain, gave a Memorial Day prayer.
Mel Ratzlaff, sergeant of arms, laid a wreath at the Memorial monument for those who died. Wayne Friesen and Ron Suderman then read the names of service members who gave their lives in service to their country.
Al Plenert, firing squad commander, then gave the order to Jay Klassen, Loren Hiebert, Marvin Meisinger, Donnie Abbott, Rod Bolstad, Lonnie Hamm and Jim Dalke to fire the 21-gun salute.
The Color Guard included Harvey Ray, Josh Plenert, Gary Klassen and Andy Krause.
Others participating at the ceremony were Dick Carr, AL Post 366 commander; Yvonne Cushenbery singing; Lewis Hagen playing Call to Colors and Taps and the Sons of the American Legion raising the U.S. flag.