RACINE — American Legion Post #602’s guest speaker David Brainard addressed the concern of dwindling attendance for Memorial Day services during the post’s ceremony in Racine on Monday.
The Southern High School Band performed and members of post held a flag raising ceremony in the Veteran’s Memorial Park before continuing the memorial inside the post’s facility.
Post #602 Commander Kevin Willford introduced Brainard by saying “ I want to thank all of you who came out today. I think many have missed the mark when it comes to remembering what this day is about, but I think David will elaborate on that as he speaks.”
“It is great to see you all, but sad that others didn’t come,” Brainard began. “Memorial Day has gone from a day to remember our service members to a family day with picnics and cookouts. It seems we have lost the respect of our freedom, and I pray the sacrifices made for our freedom will not disappear.”
A US Navy veteran and Pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Pomeroy, Brainard served on the USS Santa Barbara, and outlined four things the military teaches: discipline, love, courage, and sacrifice.
“Discipline is what allows soldiers to overcome an instinct to run in the face of danger to themselves,” he said. “You can either run from or to something, to run into something from which you know you may not return takes discipline and commitment.”
He said his ship was part of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day Invasion ceremonies naval armada in Normandy, France in 1994, and that it brought home what it must have been like for his grandfather that day.
“My grandfather was on Utah Beach on D-Day. What kind of discipline did it take to land on that narrow beach and look up at those cliffs, knowing the enemy had a great tactical advantage, knowing that the odds of returning were not in your favor?”
Love of country, love of family is part of who we are as soldiers. You cannot know how much you love your country until you are asked to put your life in danger, to walk into harms way, knowing that everyone at home is depending on you.
You can never measure bravery or courage, it is something that comes from within.”
He observed that everyone serving in the military have made sacrifices, and far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice and deserved to be honored.
“The least we can do is honor them, they deserved to be honored, they gave everything they had so we could live in freedom. We owe them our memory, our honor at least once a year to say thank you, to say because of you we are here, and because of you we have our freedom,” Brainard said.
World War II Army veteran Rev. Charles Bush gave the invocation and benediction for the ceremonies.
Following the benediction, members of the Women’s Auxiliary served refreshments as guests mingled.
Vietnam veteran Denny Evans and active member of Post #602 said he was proud of their accomplishments and thankful for community support.
“I’m glad to be a part of this Memorial Day ceremony honoring the men and women who gave it all,” Evans said.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.