?Pay it forward,? Memorial speaker says

Larry Cushenberry plays taps on the cornet during Monday?s Memorial Day Services in Hillsboro. A similar scene was played out in numerous communities in the county as citizens gathered to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who have served their country in the military.
Larry Cushenberry plays taps on the cornet during Monday?s Memorial Day Services in Hillsboro. A similar scene was played out in numerous communities in the county as citizens gathered to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who have served their country in the military.
Paying it forward could lead to a lifetime direction of kindhearted deeds, which was part of Monday?s Memorial Day Service message at Hillsboro Memorial Park.

The guest speaker, (retired) Col. Tim Marlar, a representative with the VA Hospital in Wichita, spoke about how everyone can do good deeds.

?We have an opportunity to pay it forward in whatever we do,? he said. ?What is it you can do to help pay it forward??

Gratitude

Citing examples, Marlar told a story about Myles Eckert, an 8-year-old boy, who found $20 in an Ohio Cracker Barrel parking lot on his way to lunch with his family.

?(Myles) wanted to buy a Lego game for his computer, but as fate would have it, he was seated across the dining room hall of an Air National Guardsman having lunch,? he said.

Once he saw the soldier, Lt. Col. Frank Dailey, he decided to give the money to that soldier and thank him for his service.

Marlar said Myles then picked up a note and wrote:

?Dear Soldier?My dad was a soldier. He?s in heaven now. I found this $20 in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It?s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.?

Dailey looked at the note and was amazed at the gratitude shown by Myles, Marlar said.

According to Marlar, when Myles was only weeks old, his father, Andrew, was killed by a roadside bomb.

?(Andrew) was deprived of seeing the young man he had grown into,? he said, ?but he was proud of his son for the ?pay it forward? attitude.

Selfless acts

Another group that pays it forward every year is the American Legion Post 366, he said.

?They have a ceremony like this to commemorate the memory of those who passed before us or even the nine soldiers and sailors who are written on the monument behind me,? Marlar said.

?They all paid the ultimate sacrifice.?

In addition to the ceremony, the AL Post puts up an avenue of flags.

?It is a glorious, beautiful avenue of flags,? he said.

Seeing this, Marlar said he recalls a quote from his wife?s Uncle Eddison Schmidt, a sergeant in WW II and a veteran, whose name will be called during the roll call of the dead.

?He would say: There is nothing more beautiful than Old Glory flying in the breeze.?

Marlar said the flags are a testimony to that and what the AL Post 366 does for the community when it pays it forward.

The AL Post also has other programs that help out the family of service members when they return, he said, and that is a pay it forward tribute.

Sacrifice

Another pay it forward story, Marlar said, happened is when he was a battalion?commander.

?I had the dubious honor to be able to pare down 500 of my soldiers assigned to me to a group of 100 to deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom,? he said.

?I did everything that a good commander would do. I looked at records, deciding to send the best people and people, who could afford being away from their families because had 500 to choose from,? he said.

One of the individuals interviewed was Peter Richert of Hillsboro, who was left off the list.

But later that evening at Ft. Sill, Okla., Richert came to Marlar asking about how most of his section was picked to go to Iraq.

?I said: Yes, Peter, but you have a track scholarship and you have a family.?

Richert, however, was determined to go with his section and he did.

Marler said that deployment turned into one of the longest deployments of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

?It was 15 months and no other unit stayed that long,? he said.

?In the closing months of that, Peter was with his section and they were ambushed. Sgt. David Barry paid with his life and Sgt. Peter Richert paid by losing the bottom half of his right leg.?

Marlar said he got the call that the convoy had been attacked and there were casualties.

Richert was reassigned to Walter Reed Hospital and Marler said he heard from Sgt. Roger Sinclair that Richert wanted to see him.

One of the first things Marlar said they talked was the conversation they had at Ft. Sill.

?Do you remember that conversation,? Richert asked.

Marlar responded that a day doesn?t go by from the time he heard about the attack and every day after that he doesn?t think about those interviews and the men he assigned to do that.

?Yes, I do remember, Peter,? he said.

Looking at the colonel, Richert said: ?I made the right decision.?

The message

Most people won?t have the opportunity to pay it forward like Richert, Barry or the nine people behind the podium, Marlar said,

?Some of us won?t even have the opportunity to give like the people who sacrificed to serve their country when their country called them.

?But we do have an opportunity to pay it forward.

?God bless you all and may God continue to bless the United States of America,? he said.

Other highlights from the service included singing by Yvonne Cushenbery; prayer by Legion Chaplain Wayne Friesen; Memorial Day prayer by Kathy Carr; Larry Cushenbery, coronet and bugler; Lewis Hagen, bugler; the Sons of the American Legion; the AL Auxiliary; the color guard and members of the firing squad for the 21-gun salute.

The nine people who gave their lives in service to their country between 1944 and 1970 were: Roy Flaming, Ervin Harder, Herbert Jantzen, William Klassen, Alfred Schroeder, Ronald Schultz, Winston Toews and Leo Warkentin.

Post Commander Josh Plenert welcomed the more than 300 people attending the service.