The sea of flags was spread over the courthouse green as usual, their colors brilliant in the morning sun.
The veterans were there in their uniforms as always. The patriotic music was familiar, as were the wreaths, the young Scouts, the prayers and the crowd come to pay tribute.
Yet everyone, from the children on their fathers' shoulders to the survivors of the World War II generation, seemed to know something was different this time.
Sgt. Shawn Allen of the Storm Lake Army and Army Reserves Recruiting Station, the keynote speaker for this year's Memorial Day ceremony in Storm Lake, gave voice to it.
"Now more than ever, we are here to honor all those who died defending America. Regrettably, the deaths of September 11 have been followed by the deaths of some of those sent overseas to fight against terrorism," he told the crowd. "This is a different war than we've ever fought. It is not just overseas, it is here at home. This war is more personal than any we have ever fought."
Ceremony host Rick Peterson echoed those thoughts, noting that the concept of Memorial Day has been reshaped by the terrorist attacks.
"We are tragically reminded that heroes don't just wear military uniforms," he said.
This year, the honor guard of local veterans expanded to include representatives of the local police, sheriff, fire-fighting and emergency medicine fields to honor the contributions those fields make - whether at Ground Zero in New York City or working to prevent disasters in Storm Lake that they hope never come.
The Memorial Day service drew a massive crowd, and included a stirring acapella performance by local students as well as the Storm Lake Middle School 7th and 8th grade bands.
The roll call of new memorial flags was read, memorial wreaths were placed by the various veterans organizations, and children once again gathered around to get the blank shell casings fired by the veterans in the Salute to the Dead.
In his message, Allen praised his military peers for the "dedicated spirit" they are showing in the war on terrorism and peacekeeping missions around the world.
"This is a difficult but inspiring campaign. These are the times that test us and help to define us as a nation," he said.
By standing against evil, there is a "chance to write a hopeful chapter in human history," Allen concluded.
Allen lives in Holstein. A native of Cincinnati, he served in the Gulf War, has been a Patriot Missile crewmember, and has served at Fort Bliss and in Saudi Arabia. He has been a recruiter for the Army and Army Reserves since last year, and covers about 45 high schools and a half dozen colleges throughout northwest Iowa.
Area Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts led the Pledge Of Allegiance. Chaplin Jack Barber - Civil Air Patrol and Pastor of Storm Lake Church of Christ, gave the invocation. A welcome was offered by John Call, Storm Lake City Administration. Dedication of Flags was by Captain Ron Graves, Iowa Army National Guard. The Salute to the Dead was given by Amvets Post #66 led by Honor Guard Commander Darwin "Dusty" Lullman. "Taps and Echo" were played by Matt and Holli Safley.
With a dozen new flags added to the Parade of Flags honoring local veterans this year, the total numbers 796 flags. One million Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.
Flags Registered for Memorial Day 2002 are as follows:
Richard J. Arndt, WWII, US Navy, Seaman 2nd Class
Vincent C. Benna, WWII, US Army, Corporal
Wendell T. Edson, WWII, US Army, Colonel
Thomas E. Frederiksen, Korea, US Navy, Radioman 1st Class
Archie Quay Haburn, WWII, US Army, Sergeant
Wilfred V. Launderville, WWII, US Army, PFC
Walter John Linge, WWII, US Army Air Force, Staff Sgt.
Francis J. Parris, WWII, US Army, Sergeant
Lloyd W. Peck, Korea, US Army, PFC
Olive C. Quilliam, WWII, WACS, Tec 3
Virgil W. Tillman, WWII, U.S. Army T-5
William F. Witte, Korea, US Army, PFC(T)