Exeter honored those who have fallen in service to their country with a Memorial Day Program at the Exeter Cemetery on Monday morning.
Legion member Tim Wilbeck welcomed those in attendance and Legion Commander Alan Songster gave a moving invocation.
The Exeter-Milligan band played “The Star Spangled Banner” before Spencer Papik read “The Gettysburg Address.”
The band performed a “Salute to Freedom” which included “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “America,”and Janey Due read “In Flander’s Field.”
Wilbeck was the speaker for the morning. He reminded the audience of the meaning behind the poem “In Flander’s Field” and the history behind the writing. Before he gave the rest of his speech the band played “God Bless America.”
Wilbeck continued noting the significance of poppies and the origin of poppy day. He explained how in 1918 Moina Michael read the poem by John McCrae and launched a campaign to make the poppy a symbol to keep the memory of those who died alive. Michael eventually connected with the American Legion who brought the symbol to the national forefront that it is today.
Wilbeck spoke of those who have lost loved ones on the battlefield and their response to the question “Was it worth losing your loved one’s life?”
He quoted General John Kelly whose answer was “I think my son would answer that he was where he wanted to be.”
Wilbeck went on to encourage the audience to “Make our country for which they died a better place.”
He also referenced the “amazing feats military that have made the world a better place.”
Wilbeck closed his speech talking about the Vietnam wall. A Vietnam veteran himself, Wilbeck spoke of his hope that more names would be added to the wall including three brothers, Gary, Greg and Kelly Sage, from Niobrara, Neb. The brothers died in the June 3, 1969, sinking of the USS Frank E. Evans off the coast of Vietnam. Wilbeck reminded the audience of the many very young lives that have been lost.
The Legion and Sons of the Legion honored those lost with a 21 gun salute. “Taps” was played by Trystan Brandt while Trever Zelenka played “Taps Echo.”
The audience was invited to the Legion for rolls and coffee.
Exeter-Milligan band member Trystan Brandt plays Taps while Trever Zelenka plays Taps Echo (not shown) during the Memorial Day Program.