Bright skies and warm temperatures greeted those who came to Memorial Park to honor military veterans, past and present, who served and sacrificed to keep the United States a free nation.
Mayor Lou Thurston, the guest speaker, reminded those who listened why Memorial Day remembrance is important.
“We are here today to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication, and to say thank-you for their sacrifice,” he said.
“For those who have served our country in our armed services, the words duty, honor and country are not just buzz words,” he added. “They’re words that define the mission of their service. Their service defends our freedoms, and we gather here today, in freedom, because of the sacrifices they made.”
Thurston noted that the United States has been at war now for the longest time in its history.
“We have service men and women in combat situations nearly every day somewhere around the world, defending not only our freedom, but the freedom of those who are unable to defend themselves.”
Thurston said members of the armed services put themselves at risk for others because “they understand that freedom is not free. Freedom requires courage, pride, determination, selflessness, integrity and dedication to duty. They have a love for this country and for their comrades that surpasses the understanding of those of who haven’t served.
“It’s easy for the rest of us to go about our daily lives and not have to worry about being shot, or blown apart by an (improvised explosive device). Most of us don’t have to make sacrifices today for the war effort, like our parents and grandparents did during World War 2. We live our lives in relative comfort and safety.
“Because of that, we owe those who have been wounded physically, psychologically, or paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. It’s a debt of gratitude, not just on this day, but every day.”