The Exeter American Legion and Sons of the American Legion members form the color guard at the Memorial Day program in Exeter.
Exeter honored those who have fallen in service to their country with a Memorial Day Program at the Exeter Cemetery on Monday morning.
After the flag ceremony Legion Commander Alan Songster welcomed the audience and reminded them of their purpose there, “to honor those we remember.”
The Exeter-Milligan band played “The Star Spangled Banner” before Pastor Kim Dunker led the invocation.
Patrick Murphy read “The Gettysburg Address” before the band performed a “Salute to Freedom” which included “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “America.”
Kelsey Bigelow read “In Flander’s Field” before the band played “God Bless America.”
Songster introduced Tim Wilbeck the speaker for the service. Wilbeck noted that this year America is honoring the 150th Memorial Day formerly known as Decoration Day.
“Any American would feel honored to speak about America’s sons and daughters. . .to pay special tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to those who returned home and since passed on,” explained Wilbeck, “Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.”
Wilbeck shared the story of the heroics of aviator Frank Luke during World War I. Pursued by eight enemy planes, Luke shot down three enemy ammunition balloons before he was shot down in France. After crashing, he pulled his automatic pistol and defended to the death. He was the first pilot to receive the medal of honor.
He also shared the story of very quiet heroism, that of Vietnam nurse Sharon Lane, a 26 year old volunteer from Ohio. “She received no medals or fame… she wrote in a letter home that hardly anyone is sacred. It’s just part of the job.”
An enemy rocket took her life and that of a 12 year old Vietnamese girl. Lane was the only female nurse killed by enemy fire in Vietnam.
Wilbeck noted that these and so many others were “wedded to the principle that America is worth dying for.”
He closed with the story of four young Marines who recently lost their lives in California. Some had already done foreign tours and never expected to lose their life in a training exercise.
Wilbeck reminded the crowd that “we need to give our gratitude and support to a group no one wants to join – the Gold Star family. Let us not stop with this ceremony. . .visit those family members, look them in the eye and thank them.”
The Legion and Sons of the Legion honored those lost with a 21 gun salute. “Taps” was played by Trever Zelenka while Mitchell Manning played “Taps Echo.”
The audience was invited to the Legion for rolls and coffee.
Mark Crawford posts the colors at the Memorial Day Program in Exeter.
John Tauriella posts the Legion flag at the Memorial Day Program in Exeter.
Mrs. Angie Murphy directs the Exeter-Milligan Band at the Memorial Day Program in Exeter.
Trever Zelenka is on the end of the row of trumpets in the Exeter-Milligan band.
Brian Moor (far left) gives the orders to the American Legion members as they salute the dead.
Trever Zelenka plays Taps to close the Exeter American Legion Memorial Day Program at the Exeter Cemetery.