Vermillion comes together, remembers war dead Monday By David Lias
Plain Talk Brian Mehaffey, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is now associated with the Veterans Resource Center in Vermillion, said Monday that he hopes Americans will always remember the sacrifices women and men have made to guarantee precious freedoms in the United States. "Sometimes, I think we forget the true importance of Memorial Day," he said. "It becomes a bit of an obscurity, or possibly a day that we think of as a vacation or time with family." Mehaffey was speaker at the Memorial Day observance held in Vermillion Monday at the Clay County Veterans Memorial, located on the grounds of the Clay County Courthouse. The event was sponsored by the Vermillion VFW Clay Post 3061. "The true importance (of Memorial Day) is to honor and remember those who have served before us," he said. Mehaffey admitted that while serving in the Marine Corps, he didn't fully understand the importance of Memorial Day. After serving in Iraq, however, "I definitely went through some battles and struggles when I came back (to the United States)," he said. "Something that we were so used to while in the service is 'having each other's back,' serving each other, and loving each other. "Something that we forget when we get out of the service is we still have fellow veterans," Mehaffey said. "We still have each other to lean on, and it's so important to get involved with veterans' issues." Just as it is important for members of the military to fight and protect the freedoms of the United States, it is equally important for Americans to "continue to fight for and protect those (servicemen and servicewomen) who come back home in honor of the memory of those who did pay the ultimate sacrifice," he said. An audience made up of people of all ages, including veterans, sat under the rows of flagpoles that make up the Clay County Veterans Memorial. Monday's stiff breeze made the American flag and the banners representing the various branches of the U.S. armed forces snap to attention as Mehaffey spoke. "I'd like to thank the families who laid such a heavy sacrifice on the alter of freedom," he said. "It is a true honor to have such a strong and beautiful country and I am proud of those who continue to fight and serve." The local VFW, American Legion and other veterans' organizations, such as the Veterans Resource Center, are dedicated "to strengthen the lives of veterans and their families in the community," Mehaffey said. "I implore all of you to continue to serve in that way." Monday's observance included music by vocal soloist Dru Daniels, who sang America the Beautiful and You Never Walk Alone, the reading of General John Logan's Orders, the honor roll call, and the placing of wreaths by members of American Legion Post 1 and its auxiliary, and VFW Post 3061 and its auxiliary. The service ended with a rifle salute to honor the dead by the VFW Honor Guard, and the playing of Taps. Log on to spotted.yankton.net to view more photos from Mondayâ�?�?s services.