SunRiver Memorial Day ceremony features Gold Star father and 300 attendees

Lt. Col. Jerome Gourley, U.S. Army Ret. and Gold Star father, addresses the crowd at the Memorial Day service at SunRiver St.George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Featured speaker, Lt. Col. Jerome Gourley of Tocqueville, reminded more than 300 in attendance at the Memorial Day service at SunRiver St. George that Memorial Day should not be confused with Veterans Day.

More than 300 people turned out for the Memorial Day ceremony at SunRiver St.George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

“Memorial Day celebrates all who have gone on. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans,” he said. “Whereas sacrifice, courage, service, these are all words we toss around sometimes too freely. These words describe our uniformed service men and women. That’s who I would like to address now.”

Gourley is a Gold Star father who lost his son, Gregson, in Iraq in 2006. A portrait of his son was on display next to the podium from which he addressed the audience.

Gourley pointed out several key aspects of military service by veterans. He said:

It is worthwhile to remember it is the veteran, not the preacher who gives us freedom of religion. It is not the reporter who gives us freedom of the press. It is not the poet who gives us freedom of speech. It is not the campus organizer who gives us the freedom to assemble. It is not the lawyer that gives us the right to a free trial. It is not the politician who gives us the right to vote.

Gourley’s son was a member of the 101st Airborne Division who was killed on his second tour of duty in Iraq. The 38-year-old left behind a wife and four young children.

“My son was an American soldier,” Gourley said. “He knew all men will die. Only those who have been worthy to answer a calling from God are given the honor to die for a cause. In these times, all of us will be called upon to make a sacrifice. Only God knows when.”

My son didn’t want to die, he wanted to live.

Valerie King, of the Daughters of the American Revolution, explained the meaning of red poppies as a symbol of Memorial Day.

Valerie King of the Daughters of the American Revolution explains the meaning of red poppies as a symbol of remembrance during Memorial Day at services held at SunRiver St.George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

The poppy became adopted by the National American Legion in 1920, she said, after a two-year effort by Moina Michael, who became known as the ‘Poppy Lady’ to create a national symbol of remembrance.

The memorial service began with the entrance of the Patriot Riders of Southern Utah on their motorcycles, followed by the color guard and Knights of Columbus members.

The event also featured a fly-over organized by members of the Dixie High School ROTC as a small plane dropped red, white and blue streamers near the assembled crowd.

A wreath presentation, 21-gun salute and playing of taps closed out the ceremony.

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Email: rrees@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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