Memorial Day service honors the fallen

A Commiskey man who served in the U.S. Navy attended Monday’s annual Memorial Day service at Riverview Cemetery in Seymour because of its meaning.

“It’s so meaningful and heartfelt, but some people in the younger generation just don’t understand and that’s the big thing,” Joe Elkins said.

Elkins said he knew people who served our country and are no longer with us, like his grandfather who served in World War I.

Gary Anderson, commander of American Legion Post 89, welcomed the crowd gathered at Monday’s service and introduced their chaplain, Pastor Gary Dyer of Seymour, as the speaker.

Dyer, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, said Memorial Day is about keeping the memory alive and keeping things going.

“When I woke up this morning, the first thought I had was of Gold Star mothers,” Dyer said. “I think one of the reasons I was allowed to come home was because I had a mother that prayed.”

Dyer said he wanted to honor the Gold Star mothers who lost a son or a daughter and he also wanted to honor all the veterans from all of the various branches of the military in attendance for the service.

“More than that, we are here to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Dyer said. “The young men who didn’t make it home from the jungles, the mountaintops, the beaches of Normandy, Iwo Jima and all the other places that I could name today.”

Many young men did not have a chance to come home and live their lives, maybe get married and have children, he said.

“They all went to fight for freedom, and thank God we’ve got people that still want freedom and are willing to fight for that freedom today,” Dyer said.

Dyer said about 1,712 veterans are buried at Riverview Cemetery, and a flag was placed by each of their headstones earlier in the week.

He said his father was in the Marine Corps and fought in World War II, he had three uncles who fought in World War II, he fought in Vietnam and his two sons who fought in Iraq.

“For a miraculous reason, God allowed us to come home, and I believe he allowed us to come home so we could be here today and never forget,” Dyer said.

The service included a wreath-laying ceremony where Dyer assisted Dora Lee Campbell, president of the American Legion Post 89┬áLadies Auxiliary, as she placed a wreath on a veteran’s grave in honor of American Legion Auxiliary Post 89.

Daniel Nourse, assistant vice commander of American Legion Post 89, escorted Lois Anderson, a member of the post’s ladies auxiliary, as she also placed a wreath on a veteran’s grave in honor of American Gold Star Mothers.

“It makes me proud to see so many people concern themselves with the veterans and what they mean to us and what they’ve done for us,” Campbell said. “It’s so nice to see this many people come out and honor our history.”

Members of a combined honor guard from American Legion Post 89 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 fired a 21-gun salute and veteran John Schafstall of Seymour performed “Taps” to end Monday morning’s service.

Michael Junge, executive director for Cub Scout Pack 529 in Seymour, and 8-year-old Cub Scout Jeremiah Newton attended the service and walked down Soldier’s Row to look at the tombstones and flags.

“My grandpa was a World War II vet and various members on my dad’s side served,” Junge said. “The Scouts have a section called Duty to Country, and we’re here learning about our civic duty as citizens.”

He said with the world opening back up again after COVID, he felt it was important to attend the service.

“We’re here to show our civic duty as Cub Scouts and leaders to commemorate those who have served and passed away,” Junge added.

Jeremiah looked at the row of flags and called them “Captain America flags.”

Junge told Jeremiah Captain America is a superhero in comics and movies, but the fallen who served our country and protected us were superheros as well, just in a different way.