Memorial Day gives Americans a chance to recall and reflect on the sacrifice of fallen service members.

At the St. Peter and Kasota ceremonies, the keynote speakers remembered the times when that sacrifice became more real.

Sgt.1st Class Damon Brunow was a member of the honor guard for Corporal Rachael Hugo, a medic assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company. She had served with Brunow.

“We watched over her from the plane, we stood guard through the night and stood guard at the memorial and through the burial,” he said at St. Peter’s ceremony in Minnesota Square Park. “Before that, I understood conceptually the importance of Memorial Day. But it was at that time that it hit home.”

Brunow was struck by Hugo’s parents serving them a meal the night before the memorial.

“The thought occurred to me then that this is how Memorial Day should be celebrated, not with grief and tiers but by living our lives the way they would have lived with us,” he said.

Rev. Dennis Secrease said he didn’t reflect much on Memorial Day when he served during the Vietnam War.

“But after, once I had time to reflect, I can say I’m proud of being a veteran,” he said. “We are a select few and can truly call ourselves a band of brothers and sisters.”

At Kasota Hill Cemetery, he said that veterans and civilians can remember “family, friends and fellow military people we came to know and cherish.”

Connor Maday, who created a veterans memorial bench at the cemetery for his Eagle Scout project, said he wanted to make a place for people to come and reflect.

In St. Peter, members of the American Legion William R. Witty Post 37 look forward to the start of construction of the St. Peter Area Veterans Memorial.

“Six years ago, I asked if anyone was interested in forming a committee to build a memorial to the fallen and our veterans,” Post Commander Ron Haugen said. “This summer, six years later, it will become a reality.”

For the second year, the names of the fallen from the St. Peter area were read during the ceremony.

“They are 83 sons, brothers and friends,” Mayor Chuck Zieman said. “All of them are true American patriots.”

Reach Associate Editor Nancy Madsen at 507-931-8568 or follow her on @SPHnancy.

Nancy Madsen has written for newspapers in Watertown, N.Y., and Mankato, as well as for PolitiFact Virginia at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va. Nancy is a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

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