Fallen soldiers honored as community observes Memorial Day

ST. GEORGE – People gathered at cemeteries, parks and elsewhere across the community Monday to mark the day devoted to the nation’s honored dead.

Unlike Veterans Day, which honors those who are serving and have served in the armed forces, Memorial Day honors the soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Memorial Day observance at the Veterans Honor Park in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, May 29, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Memorial Day observance at the Veterans Honor Park in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, May 30, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

American Legion Post 142 hosted the annual Memorial Day program at the Veterans Honor Park in SunRiver Monday morning. Among those speaking to the large crowed that assembled was Tom Cover.

“The question of how many have died in U.S. wars is hard to grasp,” Cover said. “Numbers vary because of the Civil War, but over 1.3 million to 1.5 million have given their lives in defense of their country.”

To put those numbers in perspective, Cover said, 1.5 million is half the population of Utah.

An estimated 80,000 American solders have also been reported missing in action since the days of the Civil War. That’s the population of St. George, he said.

The cost of freedom is high, Cover said, and read a quote attributed to President Ronald Reagan during a 1983 Memorial Day speech:

I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.

Words were also shared from the podium of how military service can take a group of people and make them one through what they go through, and that those who are lost along the way are sorely missed.

Marine Corps and army veteran Tim Rogers at the Memorial Day program held at the Veterans Honor Park in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, May 29, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Marine Corps and army veteran Tim Rogers at the Memorial Day program held at the Veterans Honor Park in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, May 30, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As the words were spoken, an “Oorah” was heard from somewhere in the crowd.

During the program, music was provided through a flute played by Tim Rogers, a Marine Corps and army veteran who served in Vietnam.

He shared some of his own thoughts on the day of remembrance and played “Amazing Grace” on his flute.

“No matter how many times I play this, it gets me right here,” Rogers said. “I miss my brothers.”

As the program concluded, members of the crowd took small American flags and placed them by bricks with the names of soldiers carved into them. The bricks are a part of the honor park’s pavilion.

The majority of the names featured on the bricks are from various conflicts over the last 100 years, though some go as far back as the Civil War.

Memorial Day observance at the Veteran Park Washington City, Utah, May 29, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Memorial Day observance at the Veteran Park in Washington City, Utah, May 30, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“To me, it’s (about) respect,” Rogers said of Memorial Day following the program. “A lot of our boys gave their everything for what we have today, for freedom. That’s what this is all about.”

Another Memorial Day program was held in Washington City at the Veterans Park on 100 East.

American Legion Post 912 organized the event with Post Commander Calvin Fox acting as the master of ceremonies.

If he could, Fox said he would ask people to take the opportunity to go to a cemetery and visit a veteran’s grave.

“(Today is) not about the veterans who are alive,” Fox said.

“A lot of people think of (the day) as the first barbecue day of summer. It needs to be more than that today.” he said. “Honor those who fell.”

The Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Utah and Marine Corps League Detachment No. 1270 took part in both the SunRiver and Washington City programs.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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