FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown community gathered Monday to pay tribute to those citizens who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. The Memorial Day observance started on the square with the raising and lowering of the flag to half-staff, and the placing of a memorial wreath to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
A procession, led by Fredericktown police, an honor guard from the American Legion and Scouts from troops 342 and 350, then made its way along Sandusky Street as spectators waved small American flags and saluted the veterans. Gold Star parents, American Legion auxiliary members, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Fredericktown school band, children on bikes festooned with red, white and blue, emergency vehicles from the Fredericktown Community Fire District, Little Miss Poppy and three individuals on horseback joined the trek to Forest Cemetery, gathering more marchers in their wake.
At the cross symbolizing the burial spot of unknown soldiers, Robert Vernon of American Legion Post 500 said, “Memorial Day has become one of America’s most significant holidays. It’s a day to remember those who have gone on to eternal rest and what they meant to America in life and in death. It is especially significant to us who are veterans as we pay a special tribute to our departed comrades. ... Let us not forget.”
Special speaker Dan Humphrey said Memorial Days in Fredericktown are “Norman Rockwell moments” with parades, bands, flags, veterans, Boy Scouts, fire departments and later baseball games, softball games, and often family picnics and gatherings. He said Memorial Day is a time to teach patriotism to children.
Humphrey gave special recognition to those who served in the Vietnam War, and spoke of finding Guy Fearn’s name on the memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
“Thousands of names are on that wall,” he continued. “They all have a family and they all have a story. As Americans, we are indebted to those who have served and those who continue to serve our country today. Because of their gift of service, we enjoy many freedoms today.”
Listing some of those freedoms, Humphrey reminded the audience that many people around the globe do not have those freedoms.
“Our flag flew then,” he said, “and it flies today. It will continue to fly as long as men and women are willing to give the gift of service to our country.
“The reality of it is,” Humphrey concluded, “Memorial Day is more than a Norman Rockwell moment. No artist can truly capture the intensity and magnitude of our freedoms. We stand in gratitude today for our veterans, for the men and women currently serving in active and reserve duty and to all the families of the past and present military personnel. Each of you, thank you for your gift. And may God’s mercy continue to bless America.”
The observance concluded with the placing of flowers and wreaths on the gravesite, a gun salute, the playing of “Taps” and a prayer.