Few ceremonies rival Memorial Day.
For rural America, it’s become both a remembrance and a coming together of generations. To remember is to salute those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice, to honor those who continue to defend the Constitution, and value community.
At Minnesota Square Park in St. Peter, hundreds joined in a 45-minute, music-filled service. This Memorial Day also marked the kickoff to the fundraising efforts for the Saint Peter Veterans Memorial Association. And in the park’s northeast corner, this memorial will eventually rise.
“Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate place to honor those who have given their lives in service to this nation,” said Bill Kastens, adjutant for the William R. Witty American Legion Post #37.
Post #37 Commander Eric Thomas added that while Memorial Day remembrances continue to honor those who served and died, there are others who have grieved and sacrificed.
“Let us not forget the loved ones they left behind,” Thomas said.
St. Peter’s 2015 Memorial Day address was provided by U.S. Army veteran Leroy McClelland III, who brought the large crowd to its feet with a rousing speech which moved beyond some of the patriotic traditions of the holiday. And he didn’t lose the significance and honor of being a Memorial Day speaker.
“It makes me nervous that I do justice to those who have given so much,” McClelland said, adding that it’s an emotional time, remembering “seeing your friends go off and not come back.”
While many use the American flag as a symbol of the day, McClelland focused instead on “defending the Constitution” and “supporting the president.” And that Constitution, he added, can be defended by both those in uniform and private citizens.
“This country is strong because of that Constitution,” he stressed. “Do not shortchange what they have died for. That is a foundation that made this a great nation.”
After the service at Minnesota Square Park, the St. Peter American Legion Post #37 Honor Guard made its way to the Hwy. 99 (Broadway Avenue) bridge to honor soldiers lost or buried at sea.
Earlier in the morning, at Kasota, over 100 people joined Memorial Day services at the city’s Community Center. Another 100 joined in the ongoing ceremonies at Kasota Hill Cemetery, which noted its 150th year in 2004. Its beginnings, before the Civil War, were now joined with those of today’s wars.
The Rev. Dawn Carder addressed the solemn crowd at 9 a.m. in Kasota. And after a brief service at the Kasota Community Center, the caravan of vehicles brought veterans and families to this decorated and historic place.
American Legion Post and Auxiliary #348, as well as the Morson Ario VFW Post #9713 participated in the ceremonies.