by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
With a small change in the parade route the Rogers City Memorial Day ceremony went off very well with many people in attendance under bright sunny skies. The parade didn’t start at Westminster Church this year but rather at the Courthouse with the remembrance ceremony.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 607 color guard and members of the Rogers City Serviceman’s Club handled the ceremony with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Rogers City High School (RCHS) Marching band looking on.
When the ceremony was finished and fallen soldiers were saluted the parade moved to Memorial Park Cemetery on Larke Avenue where more honors were bestowed.
Ken Radzibon, former probate judge and local attorney, was the keynote speaker for the event. “We live in a country where we do not share a common ethnicity, or common religious background. Instead, what we share as Americans, are the freedoms that have been passed down through the generations before us,” he started.
Radzibon talked about the freedom of religion, speech, press and the freedom to vote. He talked about how those freedoms did not come without a cost.
“Today is a special day for many reasons. As we remember the sacrifices of our members of the armed services who purchased and protected our freedoms with their own lives, let us pause and think about the cost they have paid. Without their willingness to serve our country in many times of need, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms we so cherish,” he said.
Monday was the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, first celebrated after the Civil War when the graves of the war dead were marked with fresh flowers. In 1868 Gen. John Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed that May 30 of each year would be set aside as a day of remembrance. Monday just happened to be May 30.
“If you go back in time to the Revolutionary War, and then count all of the deaths of members of the armed services who have given their lives in all conflicts fought by our country, the price of freedom stands today at over 1.2 million Americans. That’s 1.2 million,” said Radzibon.
“I appreciate those of you who have given up part of your day, to honor those who have fallen, by coming to these ceremonies. Too often our country and the commercialism so prevalent today celebrates this weekend not for the purpose for which it was designed, but to mark the ‘start of summer’. We should all strive to use this day, or at least part of it, to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have fallen for our country as we continue to enjoy the freedoms for which they gave their lives,” said Radzibon.
Radzibon ended his speech quoting some stanzas from the poem “Bivouac of the Dead” by Theodore O’Hara.
Following the speech, the fallen were saluted again. After remarks from officer of the day and former sheriff Mike Peltz about the everyday heroes walking among us, the color guard was dismissed to render honors at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery and Peace Lutheran Cemetery.
Many were out to attend the ceremony with the RCHS band playing the national anthem. The ceremony was proof that Memorial Day isn’t just the start of summer or an extra day off work or school, but a day to reflect and honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms when they lost their lives protecting and fighting for them.