A Day of Utmost Significance

Chris Fischer
Posted 5/29/24

Memorial Day was marked throughout the country on Monday, May 27 th . Several groups held remembrance ceremonies. In smaller towns, the events are mostly those handled by the local American Legion …

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A Day of Utmost Significance


Memorial Day was marked throughout the country on Monday, May 27th. Several groups held remembrance ceremonies. In smaller towns, the events are mostly those handled by the local American Legion chapters and their adjoining groups. Many communities in Spink County held services.

In Redfield, a service was held at the school. The ceremonial flags were brought it. These included the American flag; the American Legion flag; the American Legion Auxiliary flag; the Veterans of Foreign Wars flag; the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary flag; the 40 ET 8 flag, and the Sons of the Legion flag. (The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars serve former and current members of the armed forces. The Auxiliaries and the Sons are for non-military citizens.)

The National Anthem was sung, and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. The chaplain led a prayer. Redfield Legion Commander Brad Englund introduced the guest speaker.

Dave Durfee, a Navy veteran, emphasized remembering the bravery of World War 2 veterans. He noted that those still alive would be in their 100s. Durfee called Memorial Day “a day of utmost significance.” His speech was a reminder of the sacrifices given. In regard to the D-Day vets, he said “Their courage was the stuff of legend.” He stated that their stories must be told, so that we remember these soldiers. He said that ways of remembering could include “Visiting sites, placing mementos, and honoring contributions.” Importantly, he said “Today should not be the only day that we remember.”

Next, the memorial wreath was placed upon the cross which was on stage. The names of those servicemembers lost since Memorial Day 2023 were read. This included 21 names. As each name was read, one of the VFW Poppy Girls (Devyn Englund and Tenley Marlow) dropped a poppy in a basket. This was a token of individual remembrance. “Taps” was trumpeted by Mario Hansen. Next came a prayer, then dismissal. Those onstage – flag bearers first – quietly and respectfully left the stage and the auditorium.

Before going on to the Redfield Cemetery, and then on to Frankfort, Englund stated the importance of doing these ceremonies every year. “We memorialize the fallen, those who died overseas, or here after returning home.”

Shirley Johnson, who’s been active in Mellette’s American Legion Auxiliary group since 2004, said “If we don’t remember and rejoice, we are just a shell and rootless.”

Johnson stated “We put crosses in the cemetery to say that we appreciate those who’ve given their lives. We read off the names of the fallen, and put wreathes with poppies on the crosses.”

Ceremonies often have a guest speaker. There are usually 2 parts to the ceremonies: the first in a community hall, and the 2nd at a cemetery. The cemetery service also includes a 21-gun salute, which is an honor given at military funerals. Wreaths, flags, crosses, and poppies are displayed as a physical sign of remembrance.

Johnson imparted another aspect of the day – community. Not only was it a day to honor all servicemembers, it was for loved ones. “It’s also a gathering of families who have lost a loved one in war. We support each other with the grief of loss.” Towns often have community meals after the remembrance ceremonies. Johnson said “Having a meal together, and singing a patriotic song in memory shows that we are not really alone in this.”

Freedom was mentioned throughout the day. “Freedom isn’t free” has been a well-known phrase. Finally, Johnson added “The public comes to honor our service people who have given us the freedom to live this way.”