A large crowd of hundreds gathered to honor area military veterans at Evergreen Cemetery in Britt on May 31.
The service was hosted by VFW Post 347 and American Legion Post 315 on a sunny and temperate Memorial Day morning. The West Hancock High School band led by Jennifer Rosin played special selections and songs of U.S. armed services. Veterans in attendance stood to be recognized when songs of their military branch were played.
Tiffany Sherwood and Stacy Heston led the singing of the national anthem. West Hancock students Matt Francis, Chance Eden, and David Smith gave patriotic readings.
In his welcome, local American Legion Commander John Francis described the day as sacred, noting an almost visible presence of those who had gone before everyone gathered.
Rev. Bob Dodge of the Britt United Methodist Church led the invocation and benediction. He honored those who sacrificed to protect their fellow citizens and all those currently serving in the military.
American Legion Chaplain Gene Guenther read the names of recently departed veterans. Those veterans who are included in the Avenue of Flags include for 2019 - Robert L Buns, Eppo Gremmer, and Larry Van Dusseldorp; 2020 - Connie Burgardt, Bernard Pannkuk, Lawrence Smidt, and John Tegtmeyer; 2021 - Charles L. Trunkhill, William J. Spencer, and Ralf G. Martin.
“A vet is someone who at one point, wrote a blank check to the U.S.A, payable up to death,” read Guenther. “That is honor.” He noted name plaques added to the Avenue of Flags because there are now so many to honor.
Eulinda Rasmussen of the American Legion Auxiliary saluted the laying of a memorial wreath by the sergeant of arms/Master/Sgt. Jerry Christensen, saying it was “in honor of all those who gave all.”
Blanch Chizek of the VFW Auxiliary cited the brave deeds of all veterans who gave their lives via land, sea, and air. Chance Eden played ‘Taps’ following a gun salute to the dead by American Legion Post members.
Britt Mayor Ryan Arndorfer gave the main address, citing the sacred moment of peace with everyone gathered to pay respect and give thanks for the sacrifices of the fallen.
“They were willing to give up everything for defense of our freedom,” said Arndorfer, noting how family, friends, even complete strangers visit graves placing photos, flowers, and favorite items. “Perhaps, they will say ‘what is this sense of duty?’ Why, when so many may have self-interest? They felt some tug, answered a call, and said ‘I’ll go,’ an extreme willingness to risk their lives for people they never met.”
Arndorfer said if each death makes people more heartbroken, it also makes them more determined to do what is right and good.
“It reminds each of us of our obligations to each other,” said Arndorfer, challenging people to contribute by whatever means, in their memory. “We only rise or fall together. May God bless the fallen, may He bless each of you, and may He continue to bless this community.”
Memorial Day services were also held at Central Park in Garner. Hancock County Veterans Affairs Director Gerald Edgar, VFW Commander Herman Robinson, and American Legion Commander John Tammen provided welcome remarks.
“We didn’t meet last year because of COVID,” Edgar said afterward. “The year before, we met indoors because of rainy weather. This year, the weather was perfect and there was just enough wind to keep the flags snapping every once in a while.”
Edgar estimated that well over 200 people attended the 50th annual event, including three World War II and two Korean War Veterans. He noted the flags placed in rows around Central Park, which numbered 365, the same as the number of days in the year.
Father Andrew Marr, pastor of the St. Boniface Catholic Church, led opening and closing prayers.
Garner-Hayfield-Ventura delegates to Boys State, Brandon Englin and Eric Heitland, and delegates to Girls State, Avwry Lackore and Abby Christianson, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Garner city administrator and a U.S. Army veteran Adam Kofoed, gave the address. Kofoed served with a Patriot Missile Unit at Osan Air Base in South Korea. In his speech, he recalled a colleague and friend who committed suicide, which is a military Veteran issue often difficult to discuss openly.
Special music was provided by the G-H-V seventh and eighth grade band, including a musical tribute by Cindy Joynt and Wyatt Hubrich.
Recently departed Garner area veterans were honored: Elmer F. Young (Army), Marvin L. Rayhons (National Guard), Robert W. Hestad (National Guard), Dan McCormick (Navy), Robert V. Schisel (Army), Calvin W. Voigt (Army), Robert Young (Marines), Clarence Hrubes (Army), Paul K. Larson (Navy), James Malloy (National Guard), John O. Haugen (Navy), Richard Haes (Army), and Donald E. Greiman (Air Force).
The program concluded with a ceremonial 21-gun salute and Taps. May 31 Memorial Day services honoring military Veterans were also held in Klemme, Kanawha, Goodell, and Corwith in Hancock County.
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.