Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exeter Remembers and Honors the fallen

Perfect weather chose to honor the Memorial Day program in Exeter Monday morning.

The large crowd was welcomed to the program by American Legion Post 218 Commander Mark Beethe after the color guard marched in with the flags.

Beethe noted that in addition to honoring "all of those service members that made the ultimate sacrifice" he wanted to remember the 103 fallen from Fillmore County and more specifically the "12 that called Exeter home."

The Exeter-Milligan Band performed three numbers including the "Star Spangled Banner," "America," and "Salute to Freedom."

The invocation was led by Rev. Murry Johnston, Troy Kallhoff read the Gettysburg Address  Draven Payne read "In Flanders Field."

Tim Wilbeck gave the address and began by asking the audience if "a veteran would recognize our country today?"
He encouraged his listeners to reflect on that but didn't want to dive into politics on a day that is about remembering "those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country."

Wilbeck reminded those in the audience that "more than one million died in defense of our country. . .think for a moment what our life would be like if they hadn't fought for our freedom."

Instead of remembering the fallen in sorrow Wilbeck encouraged the attendees to use it as a call to action and "honor the dead by serving the living."

He gave an example of one veteran, Lou Conter, the last living USS Arizona survivor who died recently.  Conter balked at being called a hero,  “We’re not the heroes. The 1,177 who went down with the ship are the heroes. You have to remember we got to go home, get married, have children and grandchildren, and we’ve lived a good life. Those who didn’t get to do that should be called the heroes.”

WIlbeck encouraged all to always remember them.

The program ended with the 21 gun salute to the dead and the playing of Taps and Taps echo by Kierra Papik.

The audience was welcomed to the Exeter American Legion home where the auxiliary was serving rolls and coffee.

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