Memorial Day flashback: May 31, 2021
By Barry Dalton
The Vandalia Cemetery Association hosted a Memorial Day Program on Monday, May 31, at 10 a.m. at the Vandalia Cemetery to honor Vandalia’s fallen service members.
The program opened with the pledge of allegiance, led by Jim Mulherin, and the Star Spangled Banner, beautifully sung by Kevin Morris of Vandalia.
Jamie Franke, minister of the First Christian Church in Vandalia, provided the day’s inspirational message. Among other points of wisdom and guidance, Franke told the gathered crowd:
“On this day, when we remember with thankfulness, the sacrifice of others and how we are able to enjoy the fruits of the labors of others, may we be those who set our sights also on returning to the Lord. Fearing Him. Serving Him, in sincerity and truth. And, in turn, we will do in our day what Lincoln envisioned in the Gettysburg Address:
“That his nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Bob Hoehn followed Franke by leading a solemn prayer, saying in part: “We stand here in the middle of this cemetery, Lord, and look about, and we see grave markers. They’re more than just granite, or stone, or concrete, they represent someone we loved so very much. They represent a soul that you claimed. You created. Each contributed to the life of a part of our country.”
After the prayer, the American Legion Color Guard presented arms and gave a three-volley salute, signifying duty, honor and country, for America’s fallen heroes. Taps was performed by Gage and Natalie Gibson.
Next, Victoria Shaw, of the Women’s Auxiliary to the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, placed a blue flower at the Vandalia Cemetery memorial. She said, in part: “I place this emblem of eternity. Its color beseeks life everlasting. Thus, do we immortalize the brave deeds of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and the marines, who have given their lives on land, on sea and in the air.”
The patriotic ceremony was closed out with a soulful rendition of God Bless America by Louis Clark.
“Let’s have a round of applause for the people who performed today. I thought they did a beautiful job,” said Crystal Sparks, who helped organize the program. “So thank you to the gentlemen from the American Legion, the singers, the speakers, and thank all of you for coming out and hope maybe you’ve been touched a little. We’ll carry on this tradition and never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Sparks also thanked the Van-Far FFA for bringing and setting up chairs for the ceremony.