Early morning rains and the threat of more rain forced Monday’s annual Memorial Day observance inside to the Historic Hoosier Theater, but a standing-room only crowd still turned out to honor those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom – their very lives.
Vevay American Legion Commander John Stafford opened the ceremony by welcoming everyone to the event.
“It makes me awfully proud to see this many people come out,” Stafford said.
He then led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance; and that was followed by Nancy Hart sang the National Anthem.
Paul Schmitt of the Vevay VFW then introduced veteran K.C. Banta, who currently serves as pastor of Long Run Baptist Church, who gave the invocation.
“You know we gather here this morning for a memorial to our fallen comrades, and everyone here has been touched by war, from this little girl sitting over here with her grandpa to the oldest person in here,” Banta said. “We’ve always had to fight for our freedom. From the sands of the desert to the jungles of Vietnam to the frozen mountains of Korea to the islands of the South Pacific and the European Theater.”
“Every year people come out for this program,” Schmitt said. “It shows the true love and patriotism that the people of this county have for the people who served for their country.”
Schmitt then recognized those veterans in attendance, reciting off each era of conflict and war, asking those who participated in those wars to stand and be recognized. He then talked about the origins of Memorial Day.
The featured speaker for the event was State Representative Randy Frye.
“We gather here this Memorial Day, 2015, to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – the price of our freedom,” Frye said. “The brave men and women who stood against democracies enemies, from the earliest conflict of the Revolutionary War, until today. We’re here today to remember the dead, and to honor their lives.”
Frye said that he wonders why men and women like those being honored on Memorial Day chose to put themselves in harm’s way.
“I believe it’s the moral courage of free men to protect the dignity of the individual,” he said. “This is their motivation, for you see -democracy is worth dying for; and the price of freedom is paid in blood.”
Frye then shared John 15:13 from the Bible: “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“Their love was for their country,” he continued. “For freedom and justice for all. To protect the rights and the freedoms of our constitution. To live as free Americans.”
Following Representative Frye, the Vevay Music Club sang a medley of the songs which represent each branch of the military; with veterans standing as their particular song was sung.
Nancy Hart sang, “Another Soldier’s Coming Home”; and led everyone in singing “God Bless America”.
Mary Jo Meyer of the American Legion Auxiliary gave the closing prayer; and the Color Guard gave a 21-gun salute before the event was closed with the playing of ‘Taps’.