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Memorial Day Service Remembers the Fallen, Honors the Living

Pearl Harbor survivor Walt Becker stands by the grave of his wife, Dena, at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery after the Memorial Day service on Monday.
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

They came, they prayed, and they remembered.

Hundreds of veterans and their families attended the Memorial Day service at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery north of Evansville on Monday.

Michael Stedille offered a prayer of remembrance comfort to begin the service.

“On this Memorial Day we pause to reflect upon our blessings as a people, as a nation, and the high cost paid to secure those blessings,” Stedille said. “Today we honor those worthy men and women who always gave their best when called upon to serve and protect us in their country.”

Longtime veterans advocate and U.S. Merchant Marine veteran Stan Lowe read the World War I-era poem “In Flanders Field” by Lt. Col. John McCrea, as an admonition to remember the war dead. This was, Lowe said, the last time he would read the poem for a Memorial Day service.

Retired Lt. Col. Peter Schmotzer gave the keynote speech.

All soldiers have stories whether they be funny stories or “crazy lieutenant” stories, Schmotzer said.

But some stories arise from other places and much darker memories, he said.

“Yet all memories are not all quiet, peaceful,” Schmotzer said. “Some are terrible, painful, horrible tumultuous memories. And that’s all I’m going to say.”

He noted that the standing-room-only crowd in the chapel included people who were at the beginning of World War II, such as Pearl Harbor survivor Walt Becker, to the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regardless of the type of service or stories, those with military experience who served and those who died deserve to be remembered, he said.

“We will continue to carry the torch forward,” Schmotzer. “This is one torch that won’t extinguish.”

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