Families and friends came to cemeteries near and far to honor and to remember fallen heroes and lost loved ones as part of Memorial Day Weekend 2016.
For some, tears fell and soft words were spoken near tombstones which stand as silent tributes to lives once lived.
Elgin area residents participated in Memorial Day programs. There was a large turnout at Park Cemetery for the program which began at 10 a.m.
Giving the Memorial Day address was Rev. Janet Davis. She gave those in attendance a brief history of how, back in 1971, the fourth Monday of May became the official federal holiday known as Memorial Day. “But,” she said, “the U.S. has been remembering those who lost their lives in defense of our country for many over 100 years before that.”
History tells us the decoration of graves began, in earnest, following the Civil War, but it was after World War I when all who died in military service to our country were honored.
“For many decades,” she said, “in most parts of the country, May 30, no matter the day of the week, was the designated day. Not a 3-day weekend to begin the summer, but a day to pause from the usual work and hold ceremonies to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“This year around the country there are parades, carnivals, alumni gatherings, dinners, barbecues, car races and so many other get-togethers all held during the last weekend of May. We have gathered here as part of our holiday weekend to honor those from this community who lost their lives during battle …So many have lost their lives in war, and we remember them today. If their death can awake in us an understanding of our need to break down barriers of hate and the call to all of humankind to discover in each other their common, God-given humanity, then we are remembering them as they should be remembered. And remembering what they gave for us that we might build a better world.”
A larger crowd gathered at West Cedar Valley/St. Boniface cemetery for the 11 a.m. memorial service. Following music performed by the Elgin High School band, Father Ross Burkhalter shared words fitting the occasion.
“We human beings are religious beings,” he said, “we need ritual especially when the people we honor warrant special attention. We are also given memory by God not just to remember their past deeds, but make their memory come alive by emulating their example. God put people like we have here in this cemetery in our lives not by accident.”
For the complete story, see the print edition of The Elgin Review