A commitment to remember

More than 100 people attended this year?s Memorial Day service in Hillsboro, sponsored Monday by the American Legion at Memorial Park.

Following torrential rains and lightning Sunday night, the weather couldn?t have been better for the annual event.

In his remarks, Master Sgt. (Ret.) Roger Sinclair of Hillsboro thanked those attending.

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?It is heartwarming to see the support this community shows to its veterans on Memorial Day,? he said.

Citing similarities and differences, Sinclair spoke about the gifted area athletes and what a busy weekend it was with baseball and softball state tournaments.

?As a community, we routinely recognize them (athletes) and honor them for their accomplishments,? he said. ?We spend our weeks following them, cheering them and looking for their names as area leaders in our local newspaper.?

Recognizing those athletes, Sinclair said the Hillsboro Free Press and other newspapers report about them weekly.

Yet, this past week, another team roster of sorts was listed.

?If you read the Free Press, you saw a list of over 2,000 area service men and women who served in the military over the years. That is a pretty large team.?

Matt Richert of Hillsboro, whose brother Peter was wounded in Iraq in February 2006, is leaving for the Army today, he said.

?I spoke with him Friday and told him basic training is a lot like being part of a sports team.?

Sinclair told Matt he would have to work hard, support his teammates, stay motivated and listen to the coach, the drill sergeant.

?It?s not exactly a (sports) team, but there are similarities,? he said.

Referring back to the list of service members who were killed in combat, Sinclair asked everyone to ask themselves a few questions.

Reasons to gather

?Why do we meet here every year to read those names? Why do you see hundreds gather her to recognize and remember? Why does this matter so much to so many of us??

While most Americans are enjoying the day off camping at the lake, getting in a round of golf, working in the yard or barbecuing with friends and family, too often many consider the last weekend in May just a long weekend, but don?t understand or appreciate the ?whys,? he said.

?Why do we create parks like this one? Why do we gather? It?s to remember Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation?s service,? he said.

Reiterating the importance of this weekend, Sinclair encourages families to bring children and grandchildren along so that they can learn what Memorial Day means.

?We need to thank those who have served and are standing alongside us. These veterans have risked their lives in the same way as those who have fallen,? he said.

Sinclair, who was a recruiter for nine years, said he has been asked: Why should I waste my time or my life in military service?

Most, he said, are chasing the American dream without understanding why one should help defend the American dream.

One highlight of his talk was regarding service to country.

?I realize service comes in many forms. Service to God and the church, service to our neighbors and friends, service in social and economical sectors and the list goes on.?

All of those, he said, are respected ways to serve.

For the sake of time, though, he wanted to touch on service as it pertains to country.

Sinclair said he joined the service in 1985.

After arriving at Fort Benning, Ga., he said he soon felt a sense of belonging.

?There were 15,000 others much like me interested in the military,? he said.

In his unit, Sinclair said there was an unemployed Polish steel worker from Pennsylvania; a west Texas bull rider; a college drop-out from Oregon; a Puerto Rican from New Jersey and a homeless guy from Chicago listing his address as 1060 W. Addison, which is Wrigley Field?s address.

?Some joined because of patriotism, some to change their way of life, some because of family tradition and some for stable employment and to learn a new skill.?

Sometimes, he said, it?s also a good move for a family, citing the example of a single mother from Newton who rejoined the military because it was the only job she loved.

Like a family

In his presentation, Sinclair also talked about family as a priority and how family is a good way to describe the military.

?Much like the sports team analogy, this family relies on each other.

?A good family follows leadership. It depends on each other for support and survival sometimes.?

He went on to say that the family accepts one anothers individual shortcomings and learns to relay on each other?s strengths.

Quoting Lt. Col. Hal Moore?s Vietnam war book, ?We Were Soldiers Once and Young,? when questioned about how Moore?s duty of being a battalion commander compared to that of being a father of five, he said, ?Being good at one, helps me become better at the other.?

For Sinclair, that statement meant that Moore saw a direct correlation between the dynamics of a family to that of a military unit.

?I would like to personally thank the veterans who make up the American Legion Post 366. Thank you for your service to America and this community,? he said.

Sinclair said he recognized that it was the service they have provided that will continue to inspire generations of people to follow in their footsteps.

In addition to Sinclair?s talk, Ruth Winter sang small choruses to salute the men and women in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. Commander Dick Carr welcomed guests and Legion Chaplain Wayne Friesen offered prayer. He and Ron Suderman also gave roll call of the dead.

The firing squad did a 21-gun salute and the color guard presented the colors. Lewis Hagen played taps on his bugle and other selections.

The Sons of the American Legion raised the flag at half mast and the Sergeant at Arms placed a wreath to honor the departed comrades.

After the service, the Hillsboro American Legion sponsored a steak dinner.

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