Memorial Day observance draws large crowd to Veterans Memorial at courthouse

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Switzerland County honored its fallen veterans on Monday with a special ceremony held at the Veterans Memorial on the lawn of the Switzerland County Courthouse.

The Memorial Day service was sponsored by the American Legion Post #185; along with participation from members of the VFW Post #5396. The two organizations rotate the coordination of the Memorial Day event each year.

A large crowd gathered along the sidewalk in front of the courthouse for the ceremony, and heard local American Legion commander Lowell Wayne Sullivan welcome everyone. American Legion Auxiliary chaplain Mary Jo Meyer gave the invocation, and Nancy Turner sang the National Anthem.

Lowell Wayne Sullivan also served as the featured speaker for the event, explaining the importance of Memorial Day and the sacrifice made by soldiers in defense of freedom. He explained that the memorial that the audience was gathered at was to remember those soldiers from Switzerland County who died in the line of duty.

He also told the audience about the empty chair setting near the podium. Covered in black, the chair is reserved for those soldiers who are listed as POW/MIA.

“This chair will remain empty until those soldiers come home,” Lowell Wayne Sullivan said. “We should all remember that freedom is not free.”

Following his remarks, auxiliary president Rita Sullivan asked veterans in attendance from each of the war eras to stand and be recognized. Rousing applause greeted veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, Rita Sullivan gave those veterans an emotional “Welcome Home”.

Those in attendance were then treated to the official U.S. flag folding ceremony, conducted by veterans Richard Adams, Art Adams, Paul Schmitt, and Joe Ricketts. As each fold of the flag was made, Rita Sullivan told the audience the significance of the fold, ranging from mothers and fathers to our country and religion.

A 21-gun salute was fired, and “Taps” was played as the folded American Flag was placed in front of the Veterans Memorial.

Nancy Turner sang “Another Soldier’s Coming Home”, and the at the conclusion of the ceremony, many members of the crowd milled around, visiting with others and viewing the memorial.