It's not just another day off

May 28, 2001 11:00 pm
Cayla Rankin can be seen just to the right of the veterans memorial as she plays Taps, signifying the end of Mondays Memorial Day service at Mount Hope Cemetery. Featured speakers were VFW Post Commander Truscott Irby and American Legion Post Commander Mike Connelly, the former sailor saluting at right. (Baker City Herald photograph by Mike Ferguson).
Cayla Rankin can be seen just to the right of the veterans memorial as she plays Taps, signifying the end of Mondays Memorial Day service at Mount Hope Cemetery. Featured speakers were VFW Post Commander Truscott Irby and American Legion Post Commander Mike Connelly, the former sailor saluting at right. (Baker City Herald photograph by Mike Ferguson).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

The commander of the Baker City Veterans of Foreign Wars Post wondered out loud if Memorial Day, a sacred day to all veterans, their families, and the citizens of this great country has become just another day off, connected with another two-day weekend.

If that has become the case and I believe it has, Truscott Irby said Monday during Memorial Day services at Mt. Hope Cemetery then it is up to us, todays and future veterans, to get across to the citizens of this great nation their duty to their veterans, especially those who are lying in their graves here and overseas.

They gave their lives, they gave up their futures for us. This day is to honor veterans who can no longer take part with the living. These are men and women who remain mostly unknown except to the family who lost them and those who knew them, worked with them, and loved them.

Irby was the featured speaker during a 20-minute service Monday morning that included a 21-gun salute from a seven-member Honor Guard from the National Guard and the playing of Taps by Baker Citys Crysta Rankin.

More than 1.4 American lives have been claimed, Irby said, during the nations 60 military actions over its 226 year history.

How do we remember their sacrifice? he asked. The answer depends on individual choice, he said. Some people paused Monday for a few moments of silence, and I hope this day everyone takes the time to remember at least in that way, he said.

Do you suppose they are? I hope so, he told the crowd.

Many Americans attended ceremonies like the one held at Mt. Hope Cemetery, he said, while thousands of veterans also marched in parades. Some people honored the dead by planting flags at the gravesites of the nations veterans, and many more wore the buddy poppy, a symbol of support.

That is a visible example of love for those Americans who gave it all, Irby said.

He urged parents in the crowd to talk to their children and grandchildren about the importance of remembering.

Its your duty to instill in your families the purpose of this day, and what it means both to the living and the dead, he said. If we cant respect the past, how can we point this nation to a strong future?

Mike Connelly, post commander of American Legion Post 41, noted that the poem In Flanders Fields by author John McCrae was written so that future generations would not forget the price paid by the veterans of the First World War. This warning is issued in the last stanza of that poem: If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Field.

Those veterans passed the torch to World War II veterans, and now we have it, Connelly said. We have to lead our children into the future, and then those veterans can sleep in peace. Those gentlemen need to rest. Its up to us.