WARRENSBURG- In a spirit of reverence and respect, townspeople gathered in the Warrensburg cemetery on Memorial Day to pay tribute to men and women who served their nation in the name of freedom and national security.
The solemn ceremony on Monday, May 30 was accompanied by the traditional parade, displaying local pride and patriotism, down Elm and Hudson streets.
This year's ceremony featured local school children -Rebecca Persons, McKenzie Blydenburg and Megan Pierce - reading celebrated poems or documents extolling freedom, penned during landmark moments of our nation's history.
To begin the service, Father Marshall Vang of Holy Cross Episcopal Church called for citizens to pay tribute to the departed soldiers who pursued a quest for justice and peace.
Local American Legion Post 446 Commander Carson Parker read a roll call of veterans who died since Memorial Day 2010. The deceased veterans include: Stanley Randall, Vernon Hayes, Eugene Blackburn, Earl Fuller, Donald Robinson, Kermit Baker, Adam Sinko, Cal Engle, Jency Cudney, Clarence Kennison Sr., Wayne Reed, Alan Wood, Raymond Anthony Stone, Henry Cady, and Marcus Russell. Parker welcomed the public to complete the list, as his tally might not include all who deserve honor, he said.
Navy Seabees Veteran Andrew Sprague read a roster of local soldiers killed while on duty in the U.S. military.
Sacrificing their lives during World War I, were: Carrol Harrington, Ruben McBride, Tracy Ross, James Simmons, and Edson Young; in World War II: James Alger, Lawrence Burch, John Campbell, Howard Hall, Eldon Haskell, Ray Haskell, Daniel Jordon, Ernest Matteson, Stafford Randall, Daniel Ross, Robert Schrader, Kenneth Scripter, Elmer Wood and Lewis Wood. In the Korean War were: Benjamin Pendell, Theron Drake, Paul LaFond, Edward Rounds, Charles Monroe, and Horace Bradley Jr., and in Viet Nam: Clark Barlow, Frederick Flynn, and William Strobel.
"These were our brothers that gave the ultimate sacrifice," Sprague said, as the crowd bowed their heads in reverence to the departed. Trumpeter Chris Robinson of the Warrensburg High School Marching Band played Taps.
During the service and the earlier parade, members of the Local American Legion Women's Auxiliary and V.F.W. Auxiliary decorated veterans' memorials with ceremonial wreaths. Participating in the tribute were Auxiliary members Sharon LaGoy, Marge Parker, Fran Poltanis, Doreen Cooper and Mary Kenyon.
Legionnaire Eugene Pierce noted that Carson Parker had served as Post Commander for nearly 17 years, and he was stepping down in early June. The crowd applauded Parker for his Post leadership and his service to the community. Ray Hensler is to take over the position in several weeks.
Stephen Andrews, Pastor of Warrensburg First Methodist Church of Warrensburg, offered the benediction. "Shall we remember those who have faithfully served their country, and praise them for their willingness to give up their lives for our country," he said.
In the parade, Gerald "Bucket" McNeill served as Grand Marshal. Dressed in a tall black top hat, he rode in a red 1965 Chevrolet Corvair convertible driven by Lew Granger. Born in Warrensburg, McNeill served for the U.S. in the Korean War from 1951 through 1955.
Sunlight glinted off polished fire trucks and chromed axes carried by members of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co. in full dress uniform. They were joined by firefighters hailing from Thurman.
Emergency medical responders from Warrensburg and Thurman also paraded, along with local scouts and young ball players, all striding to the town cemetery.
The Warrensburg High School Marching Band, accompanied by a flag-twirling corps, offered music along the way, as well as during the memorial ceremonies.