Subscribe for 33¢ / day

BLOOMINGTON -- Many of the people who lined the route for Bloomington's Memorial Day had special reasons for being there.

You could see it in the clothes and caps they wore. You could see it in the way they waved the flag. You could see it in their eyes.

One T-shirt in the crowd summarized the message of the day: Accompanying a picture of soldiers in combat, it said, "All gave some; some gave all."

The warm, sunny weather brought out good crowds at the parade and ceremonies at Miller Park. The brisk breeze was welcome as the morning grew hotter, and it also helped flags to look their best.

Larry Hedmark of Bloomington played "Taps" at the Miller Park band shell, the Korea-Vietnam memorial and at Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington on Monday. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, he said, "I don't think people are as patriotic as they used to be." There was a resurgence in patriotism right after the Sept. 11 attacks, but that seems to have faded, he said.

However, patriotism was in full, red-white-and-blue display at the parade.

Lyle Estes of Danvers, who served in the Army Air Corps/Air Force from 1947 to 1953, has been attending or marching in the parade since its beginning as a way to pay his respects to those who served.

For him, it is not a practice limited to one day a year. He has served in the honor guard for nearly 1,000 funerals of veterans.

He worries that a lot of people don't appreciate the sacrifices that have been made on their behalf by veterans.

Decked out in a USA hat and T-shirt, sitting in a stars-and-stripes chair, Nancy Dyer of Heyworth said, "It's like everything else. You get busy and people forget." But as a self-described "military brat" who traveled around the country while her father served in the Air Force, Dyer said she understands "freedom doesn't come free. I wish more people knew that."

Brady Sutton, 11, of Downs and his 9-year-old brother Nathan seemed to understand. Attending the parade with their grandparents, Ronald and Kay Sutton of Bloomington, each waved a small flag and, when asked about the meaning of Memorial Day, talked about veterans who go into battle.

At a ceremony in Miller Park after the parade, AMVETS state commander William Buckner described Memorial Day as "one of most solemn and revered holidays" -- a day to "pause to remember the true cost of freedom."

He noted that there are memorials around the country with names of the dead from our nation's wars and "behind each of the names is an American hero" who left behind a parent, spouse or child to mourn them.

"For the last decade, America has lived with the specter of fear over our heads," while terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was at large. The mention of bin Laden's death brought applause from the crowd, but Buckner reminded those in attendance that members of the U.S. military are still engaged in a global war against terrorism.

Sandi Elwood and Lori Mills need no reminder. Both are mothers with sons currently in the military. They were among members of Corn Belt Blue Star families who attended the wreath-laying service at the Korea-Vietnam veterans memorial in Miller Park.

"It is very special to be here to remember the sacrifices" of those in earlier wars, Mills said. She and the other mothers hope the wars in which their sons serve will also be remembered in future years.


Load comments