CENTERBURG — “They said goodbye and went off to war. ... They left the towns and the cities where they were born and raised. ... They left their dreams and their calling. ... They said they would return.”
The remains of many of these soldiers were returned to this great land and buried here, said Carl Swisher, national executive committeeman for the American Legion, speaking at Centerburg’s Memorial Day observance. Some were buried overseas, some in the sea.
“We owe them more than we can reflect in words,” said Swisher, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1960-64. “Our nation owes its very existence to those who answered the call of duty.”
Swisher said 1 million Americans have died in war since the founding of America.
“We the people must remember what they fought for,” he said.
Swisher told the youngsters that soldiers always pray for peace, although many times in history Americans have had to take a stand.
“Americans who have answered their country’s call are why we are able to be here today,” he said. “Our freedom is not because of diplomatic skills ... or things such as these. Our freedom is because Americans have shown time and time again that we are willing to fight, and die, if necessary, to remain free.
“With grateful hearts we honor those who gave their life for their country.”
Dale and Sharon Robinson, Boy Scout Troop 382 and Cub Scout Pack 382 placed memorial wreaths.
In his invocation, Chris Williams paid tribute to those who have served their country.
“We can stand here because of the courage of so many brave soldiers,” he said. “As we reflect on those who have gone before us, may we thank God for the time he allowed us to spend with them.”
The observance included music by the Centerburg High School Band and a rifle salute.