MOUNT VERNON — “In every generation, America has been graced with heroes who have gone to war to protect our freedom and defend our ideals. May their legacy be honored for generations to come.”
Knox County Career Center Jr. ROTC Cadet Max Heindl best summed up the reason why a large crowd attended the Mount Vernon Memorial Day program on Public Square on Monday.
Heindl was one of three student essayists chosen to read their work at the ceremony, which followed a parade down East High Street.
Heindl has seen the reason behind Memorial Day slip during his young life, and he wants to see it return to the way it used to be.
“Sadly, in some ways, Memorial Day has become a second-rate holiday. Taking the time to remember our veterans isn’t the way most of us would choose to spend our leisure time. That’s unfortunate and we need to do better,” he said. “Seek out a veteran ... open your ears, your heart and your mind. Say thank you. Make sure our children understand why our veterans are our heroes. Help them learn to value the nation and the ideals that so many have given their lives to protect.”
The ceremony included patriotic music from the Mount Vernon and East Knox high school marching bands, as well as wreath placing by Gold Star Mothers and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Then the three essay winners read from their work.
Lilly Burnside, a student at St. Vincent Middle School, read her winning essay.
“We remember far and wide, all those heroes who have died; for our freedom they have fought, how to mourn we’ve been taught,” she said.
Matthew Rainer, a fifth-grader at Columbia Elementary said, “Memorial Day — A time to honor American heroes. They gave us our freedom. We pray in God’s name that the men that died in battle, will be honored by who they are — freedom givers and men of their word.”