Honoring sacrifice and tradition


Nearly 50 people gathered Sunday afternoon at Brownstown’s cemetery to continue a tradition that began more than 150 years ago after the country had been put back together after the Civil War.

Dr. Max Middendorf with American Legion Camp Jackson Post 112 opened the Brownstown post’s annual Memorial Day ceremony by talking about how this country started honoring its war dead in late May of each year.

“There was a druggist in Waterloo, New York, who decided in May of 1865, that it might be nice to once a year to get together to honor the people who were killed in the Civil War,” Middendorf said from the shelter house at Fairview Cemetery.

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In that town of about 5,000, 60 young men had been killed during the Civil War, so they picked a day to have a commemorative service for the fallen, he said. That was the beginning of Memorial Day, he said.

Brownstown’s annual Memorial Day service began with a flag raising conducted by veteran Glen Killey, followed by the pledge led by Middendorf, who also is a veteran.

Town resident Barry Cutter, who talked briefly about the military service of two of his uncles, then gave the invocation before John Spurgeon sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

The Rev. Michael Hogg with Driftwood Christian Church near Vallonia then spoke.

“Memorial Day is unlike any other day in our nation and in our history. Since 1868, we have come together in every community, village and town to place flowers and flags on the graves of those who have given their full measure of the devotion of this country,” Hogg said. “We come together here today to remember and honor those who have done their duty as God has allowed them to see fit.”

Hogg said in the 80 months of the Revolutionary War, America suffered 10,623 casualties with 4,435 deaths.

“Which meant we lost 55 Americans dying every month in that war,” he said.

During the 37 months of the Korean War, an average of 909 American military personnel died in combat, and over the nine years of the Vietnam war, an average of 526 Americans died each month, he said. More than 7,000 Americans have died in the Gulf Wars and the dying continues, he said.

“These Americans did their duty and we know who they are because we have visited the cemeteries and seen the shortened dates on their tombstones,” Hogg said. “We also know their loves ones — their wives, their mothers, their children and their friends who miss them still.”

Hogg said World War II was America’s costliest conflict.

“Over the 48 months of that war, there were 1,078,000 American casualties with 407,316 deaths,” he said.

That meant than 6,639 Americans died every month of that war, Hogg said.

“These are staggering numbers,” he said. “… and the recriminations even during the war at home from politicians and the press were relentless as it always seems to be in a free regime.”

The Americans in combat never faltered and preserved, he said.

“Their courage and service knew no bounds,” Hogg said.

After Hogg finished speaking, the ceremony ended with a rifle salute by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 honor guard from Seymour accompanied by members of the David Benton chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Brownstown resident Dick Parman then played taps.

The event was attended by several local veterans including Robert Pope.

The Vietnam-era veteran who spent two years with the regular army and two more in the reserves said it’s important to honor the nation’s day.

“I try to attend every year,” Pope said.

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