The Alta VFW and Auxiliary hosted the annual MEmorial Day services at the Alta Community Center Monday. The color guard and firing squad was led by Commander Dan young, Pastor Terry Pollard gave the invocation and the benediction and the Alta High School band shared patriotic music.
Special guest was Commander Sergeant Major Louis Wolfgram, a Vietnam veteran who has been selected as the next Iowa National Guard State Command Sgt. Major effective this summer.
He gave a history of Memorial Day.
"This year we recognize those American patriots who gave their lives, as our nation observes the 140th anniversary of Memorial Day- a holiday that was originally known as Decoration Day," he told the crowd. "While many communities lay claim to the birth of Memorial Day, it was the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, who proclaimed Decoration Day on May , 1868. It was set aside as a day for citizens to honor our fallen Civil War Soldiers by placing flowers on their graves."
He said the nation's first large observance was held that same year at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. By the end of the 19th century, Decoration Day ceremonies were held across the country on May 30. It was not until after World War I that the day was expanded to honor those who perished in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
"Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. It is more than just another 'day off;' it is a time to honor those who have died in service to our nation. Starting with the American Revolution, to the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and today's global war on terror, America's military forces have built a tradition of honorable and faithful service," Wolfgram said.
"It has been said that 'for a nation to be successful, its citizens must be willing to serve.' Today, our brave men and women will remain the centerpiece of our national security. For more than three centuries, our men and women in uniform have followed a Warrior Ethos and system of values central to all that we do. They symbolize the nobility of selfless service and sacrifice, and have pledged their very lives by answering the Call to Duty. Our most potent weapon in this war, without a doubt, is our proud Americans in uniform, who volunteer to serve. They come from all across this great country, from small towns and cities, and from various backgrounds. Many of them will go to war and some of them will not return. We must never forget their sacrifice."
Since last Memorial Day, he said, 11 Iowans have given their lives in the name of freedom.
"As we remember our fallen Americans, let us not forget these Iowans who have paid the ultimate price in the Global War on Terror. Also, let us not forget the sacrifices of their families in the name of freedom. As we remember those who most recently gave their lives serving to our country, we must also remember the hundreds of thousands who have gone before them."
He shared that America's war dead will not only be remembered today in the United States, but also at gatherings around the globe. One long-running overseas ceremony is in Cambridge, England. The United Kingdom doesn't officially have a Memorial Day; it has Remembrance Day in November. But today, hundreds of English citizens will attend an American Memorial Day service at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery. They come to honor the more than 3,800 Americans who are buried there on land donated by Cambridge University in 1944. The site is one of 14 permanent American World War II military cemeteries on foreign soil. "Today, we should actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice," Commander Sergeant Major Wolfgram said. "On this and every Memorial Day, we must never forget the meaning of Memorial Day and remember those proud patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty's blessings. God bless you and your family, and may God bless the United States of America."
Flags were dedicated to eight recently departed comrades - William Madsen, Lowell Jones, Dale "Mike" Michelson, Carl Delbridge, Jim Davis, Clarence Movall, Edwin Buckendahl and Gerald Radke.