Remembering those who answered the call

MARSHALL – Memorial Day might be celebrated as a holiday now, but speakers at services in Marshall on Monday said it’s important to take time to remember the men and women who gave their all for their country.

“Today, we honor all that they have accomplished,” said Jes Mellenthin, who gave the memorial address during the services. “When our nation called, they did not hesitate to answer.”

It was overcast and breezy on Monday morning, but the weather didn’t prevent local residents from filling benches set up in front of the bandshell at Liberty Park.

Flags flew at half-staff, and an empty table setting was on display in honor of U.S. troops missing in action or held as prisoners of war.

Memorial Day has been observed since 1868, following the Civil War. The order of the day, as read by Quentin Brunsvold, was to honor fallen soldiers and care for the people they left behind.

Mellenthin, the local VFW post commander, said members of the U.S. armed forces have helped ensure safety and freedom for Americans.

“Each and every one of us owes a great debt” to the men and women who gave their lives for their country, Mellenthin said. “We dedicate this day to them.”

In his speech, Mellenthin quoted writer and orator George William Curtis, who once said, “A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle, and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”

Mellenthin said members of the military truly understood patriotism in that light, and the responsibilities that went with it. Those responsibilities included serving and protecting their country, and even coming to the aid of other nations when they ask for help, he said.

Mellenthin encouraged everyone in the audience to remember those who died for their country, by living out the same principles they served. Those principles included unity, standing up for others, and always trying to do the right thing, he said.

In addition to honoring those who died in combat, speakers read out the names of 23 area veterans who died in the past year. Taps was sounded and local veterans fired a salute.

Both Mellenthin and C.J. Molitor urged people to remember not just fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, but their families and loved ones as well.

“There is no family like a military family,” Mellenthin said. Military families, he said, face difficult and unique challenges.

Molitor looked back on his life experiences to talk about the impact that losing a single soldier can have on a family. When he was growing up in the Tracy area during World War II, he said, “There were many gold stars in windows” – meaning the service banners displayed for servicemen killed in action. All across the country, hundreds of thousands of people also mourned the loss of a family member, he said.

“Please remember the parents as well, because they suffered,” Molitor said.