Citizens pay tribute to military veterans

Citizens pay tribute to military veterans A big job took little time to complete, thanks to the work of a large group of men, women and children volunteers Saturday. Their efforts helped turn the narrow gravel roads at BluffView Cemetery into beautiful avenues of flags in time for the observance of Memorial Day. This project has grown from 33 flags in 1983 to over 250 flags this year. by David Lias The veterans' groups of Vermillion that organized Monday's Memorial Day service at the National Guard Armory found right from the start that things weren't going quite as planned.

Just moments before the service began, members of the VFW firing squad had to scurry and set up more chairs.

They were needed for one of the largest audiences to attend a Memorial Day service in the community in recent years.

"I just want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here this morning," Mayor William Radigan, past American Legion commander, said, "to recognize those who served our country so well. Some gave a little, some gave a lot. Some gave it all."

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Later in the program, the main speaker at the event, Darrel Christopherson, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into World War II, told the local audience that the title of his speech could easily be termed his personal tribute to those who served.

"We must remember that a free society is not obtained by refusing to stand up for one's country," he said. "We enjoy the basic freedoms today � the freedom to worship as we please, to go where we want, to choose our friends, the freedom from fear, of having members of our families removed from our homes in the middle of the night never more to be seen."

Americans also enjoy the right to criticize their elected officials without fearing loss of life or imprisonment, Christopherson said.

"This may sound a bit trite to some who may feel the world turns as we want it to turn, with no effort on our part," he added, "who may think that freedom is an automatic thing. We must guard it. If necessary, fight for it. Or the alternative will truly be to lose it."

Christopherson said it is important for members of the younger generation to learn that freedom is indeed a precious commodity.

"We must instill in them that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and that freedom does not always come cheap," he said. "I feel the younger generation should be exposed more to what has happened in the past and the ways of preserving their freedoms."

That means, Christopherson said, that adults � veterans and non-veterans alike � must constantly be educating youth about the sacrifices made by women and men throughout the nation's history.

"We cannot expect them (young people) to be aware of past events which have such an impact on their lives today without you and I passing the word and actually participating in services such as we are doing today.

"We must make our youth aware of the rigors and hardships that were experienced by those who served in order for them to enjoy those precious freedoms so many take for granted," Christopherson added. "It is our responsibility to teach patriotism and loyalty in the homes and expect it in the schools if we are to have an informed generation who are not indifferent to the needs of their great country and who realize their value of patriotism to their own freedom and the survival of this greatest of all countries."

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