Veterans honor fallen comrades, tout importance of war at St. George Memorial Day ceremony

Veterans from American Legion Post 90 observe Memorial Day at the St. George City Cemetery, St. George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Standing near the final resting place of 1,058 military veterans, community members and veterans remembered the U.S. men and women who gave their lives for their country as part of the Memorial Day ceremony in St. George Monday.

Retired Lt. Col. Dennis Berg, a former pilot with the U.S. Air Force, speaks at the Memorial Day ceremony at the St. George City Cemetery in St. George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Organized by the American Legion Post 90 in St. George, the ceremony was held at the St. George City Cemetery and included several musical numbers and speeches. Around 100 people converged on the cemetery to honor veterans at the event.

“A national will”

Retired Lt. Col. Dennis Berg, a former pilot for the U.S. Air Force, was the keynote speaker. Berg thanked veterans for their service and spoke about the importance of war and the military in his speech.

“It is the heavy price of war that is why we are here today,” Berg said. “For those of us who have been asked by our government to participate in the chaos and carnage of war fully understand that we may pay the ultimate price for our country.”

Without mentioning many names, Berg also turned political in his speech by mentioning politicians’ approaches to the military.

“Our military has to be second to none,” Berg said. “I can honestly say that is not the case at this moment in time. We had eight years of neglect of our hardware and our military personnel.”

Veterans salute the colors at the Memorial Day ceremony at the St. George City Cemetery in St. George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Berg suggested Trump’s hardline stance is responsible for North Korea destroying its nuclear-test tunnels and the country releasing its American prisoners.

“The divisiveness I see in our approach to our current commander-in-chief reminds me all too vividly of the days of the Vietnam War,” Berg said. “It is my assessment that we are on the beginning stages of a new resurgence of our national will.”

A “national will” to fight is what’s required for a country to be successful in a war, Berg said. The next war will most likely be to help those currently under the thumb of dictator Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Berg said.

Honoring the fallen

The St. George Memorial Day ceremony honored the veterans who died, including Daniel Lester Keate, a St. George man who died in 1918 during World War I.

“We are here today to express our gratitude,” said Ski Ingram, chairman of the American Legion Post 90. “We need to remember each and every day the gift they gave to us.”

A wreath was placed at the grave of Keate at the ceremony by some of his descendants and members of the American Legion Post 90 performed a rifle salute for him. Keate died in battle in Champagne, France, on Oct. 4, 1918, which was 53 days before his 23rd birthday and 27 days before the end of “the war to end all wars,” Ingram said.

Members of the American Legion Post 90 perform a rifle salute for Daniel Lester Keate, a St. George man who died in 1918 during Wold War I. The salute was part of the Memorial Day ceremony at the St. George City Cemetery in St. George, Utah, May 28, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

In addition to remembering the ones who died in combat, the purpose of Memorial Day is to also honor the men and women who risked their lives, including the 1,058 veterans buried in the St. George City Cemetery and the 678 buried in the Tonaquint Cemetery, Berg said.

The Color County Chorus and Tammy Houchen each performed two musical numbers at the ceremony, including a medley of all the anthems of the various branches of the U.S. military.

“We should pray to the supreme commander that all of our comrades will soon be back within our ranks,” said Terry Dunne, a veteran who led the placing of the prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action flag at the ceremony. “Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice.”

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Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

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

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