I have never attended a Memorial Day ceremony. In the past the 42N team has traversed cemeteries and parks on Memorial Day to see flags and people but never actually attended a live event. That changed today. Cedar Rapids' Metro Area Veterans Council Memorial Day Event was conducted at the ice arena because of rain in the forecast. Inside the lobby were hundreds of people, many of them elderly, dressed in attire identifying themselves as U.S. veterans.
Master of Ceremonies, Cary J. Hahn (news director at radio station KMRY) and a U.S. Navy veteran spoke about the occasion and introduced speakers. The one hour event was broadcast live on 1450 KMRY.
The guest speaker was U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Mike Brown (retired.) Mike was a certified B-52 bombing and navigation systems technician and served in Desert Storm with the 806th Expeditionary Bombing Wing. He spoke of the service of his father, the loss of his friends and colleagues during a B-52 explosion and the war-readiness condition his units maintained during the height of the cold war with the Soviets.
The New Horizons Band played Sousa marches and other patriotic music before during and after the ceremonies. Poignant portions of the ceremony included playing each service's theme. Mr. Hahn asked members of the audience to stand as they heard their service music. Veterans of the Navy stood when 'Anchors Away' was played, then the Air Force, Army and Marines stood in succession upon hearing their songs. Hahn recited a portion of the poem, 'In Flanders Fields' as the band played. The reading brought tears to many people.
Today's ceremony included a volley salute from the Marine Corps League, who stepped outside the door to fire their weapons before taps was played. Many audience members consisted of veterans, their spouses and children. While this group represented each branch of service, missing were various segments of ordinary citizens. While the few hundred person turnout didn't phase the vets the most important issue was remembering those who did serve and lost their lives so that freedom and liberty can remain cornerstones of our lives.