Monday’s Memorial Day observance packed more than 50 people into the American Legion hall in De Smet to honor De Smet’s veterans and America’s war dead.
De Smet veteran Jay Slater was the invited speaker this year. Slater spent the majority of his military career serving with the 153rd Engineer Battalion as both a combat engineer and a senior human resources non- commissioned officer.
He also served with the De Smet National Guard unit’s higher headquarters and spent one deployment in Iraq.
After more than 24 years of active service, Slater retired in 2011 with the 109th Regional Support Group in Rapid City.
Slater’s speech presented a short history of Memorial Day and how it differed from Veterans Day by honoring fallen heroes rather than those who are still with us. One of the more interesting portions related the story of a small village off the coast of Ireland which collected bodies of unknown soldiers that washed up and buried them with honors in hallowed ground. He said that survivors should honor these fallen by living the best lives that they can in support of the American way of life they were protecting.
Karen Brown spoke briefly about the origin of the “remembrance poppy” that she and her fellow Legion Auxiliary members were handing out at the door to the ceremony. They were inspired by a poem “In Flanders Fields” written after World War I by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae that refers to fields of poppies that grew in the churned up earth of soldiers’ graves in Flanders, Belgium.
She thanked all who had given to the auxiliary poppy campaigns through the past year. The money went to veterans in need.
Music was provided by Katlin Johnson and Jenny Karlen who sang three numbers during the course of the program. Karlen did a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and then Johnson sang “This is My Song” and “America the Beautiful” with Karlen accompanying.
Legion Commander Jim Pekron thanked all supporters of the American Legion and said that funds raised in the last year were sufficient to fix the sidewalk in front of the Legion hall and install a new exhaust fan in the kitchen after the old one burned up during one of the pancake feeds.
Despite the blustery conditions, uncharacteristic for Memorial Day, about 25 attended the ceremony at De Smet Cemetery. “Taps” was played, a fire team shot a 21-gun salute and the flag was raised from half-staff.
Posted on 05-31-2017
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