Friday, June 2, 2023

Memorial Day in Exeter

Exeter honored those who lost their lives in the line of service at their Memorial Day program on Monday at the Exeter Cemetery.

The flags were standing tall down the avenue of flags with the strong winds on the Nebraska prairie as the color guard presented the colors to open the program.

Post 218 Commander Mark Beethe welcomed the crowd and then asked the Exeter-Milligan Band to play “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The invocation was given by Father Brendan Kelly and Morgan White read the “Gettysburg Address.”  The Exeter-Milligan band then played “America.”

Jozie Kanode read “In Flanders Fields,” and the band played “Salute to America’s Finest.”

Beethe introduced Tim Wilbeck who delivered the address.  Wilbeck, a Vietnam veteran, opened his talk noting the number of Sons of the Legion who assisted in the color guard as there are fewer Legion members to participate. He expressed his appreciation for the members of the Sons of the Legion group.

He moved on to recall a fellow Wayne State classmate Steven Backhaus who graduated in 1969 and went right into the Marines.  He was killed after being in country for 10 days.  He reminded the audience “We don’t forget an hour ago or a century ago.”

Wilbeck then talked about those in the Coast Guard who were not eligible for the Purple Heart award until after World War II.  He talked about how many of those Coast Guard members deserving of the Purple Heart have now received them.

He also told about a lieutenant who served in three wars and received three purple hearts but when his three sons went to Vietnam he enlisted again and sacrificed a commission to serve in combat and also lost his life.  “We are here for heroes. . . who have given all they can give so we can enjoy our freedom,” explained Wilbeck.

Wilbeck reminded the audience that it will “always be painfully felt by the gold star families who will mourn them the rest of their lives. . .they all took an oath to die for America if called upon.”

The audience was asked to “continue to mourn their loss but we celebrate their lives. . .freedom comes cloaked in uncertainty.”

After Wilbeck spoke Carter Milton played “Taps” and Kierra Papik performed “Taps Echo” while the color guard gave a 21 gun salute to the dead.

The American Legion Auxiliary served coffee and rolls at the Legion hall following the service at the cemetery.


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