by Cori Hilsgen
How often do you stop to think about the freedoms we as Americans have? Perhaps you were reminded of those freedoms over the weekend while celebrating the Memorial Day holiday.
If you traveled to local cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of deceased loved ones, you might also have seen small flags placed by the graves of deceased veterans.
Perhaps you even attended one of the Memorial Day ceremonies as did the veterans, family and friends who gathered May 29 at the Old Cemetery in St. Joseph.
The ceremony honored military men and women, many of whom sacrificed their lives to protect the freedoms we have today.
Following a Catholic Mass at the Church of St. Joseph, members of the American Legion Post 328 of St. Joseph color guard and others entered the cemetery.
The Rev. Jerome Tupa began the ceremony with a prayer. Attendees listened and remembered while American Legion member Ron Klein read the names of departed veterans buried at the two church cemeteries.
American Legion members and other veterans saluted the American flag while our country’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was played and the rifle squad fired its rifles.
The names of more than 350 deceased veterans were read, including those veterans buried in foreign countries.
Following the ceremony at the Old Cemetery, attendees were invited to the American Legion in St. Joseph for refreshments.
At the Legion, St. Joseph Historical Society members Ellie Studer, Rose Court and Marlin Eich had set up a display about World War I.
Court said they chose that as this year’s theme because it was 100 years ago on April 6, 1917 that the United States entered World War I.
Hoping to encourage patriotism and to help students understand the meaning of Memorial Day and the dedication of the veterans who served, the American Legion Auxiliary held a poster contest inviting fifth- and sixth-graders from All Saints Academy-St. Joseph and Kennedy Community School to participate.
The theme of the contest was what “Memorial Day Means to Me,” besides picnics and gatherings with friends and family.
Posters could be completed at home and were displayed at the American Legion.
Eleven students from All Saints Academy participated in the contest.
Auxiliary members Court and Ann Reischl presented awards to winners of the contest at the American Legion. Winners included Taylar Schaefer, first place; Samantha O’Donnell, second place; and Jackson Phillipp and Christina Murray, who tied for third place.
Students received $50 for first place, $35 for second place, $25 for third place and $5 for all other participants.
Schaefer said it was cool she and others had the chance to express through art what Memorial Day meant to them.
O’Donnell said she also liked that she was able to express through art what the holiday meant to her. To her it was more than a poster contest.
Reischl said they plan to offer the contest again next year.
The American Legion Post 328 of St. Joseph has 248 members.
The American Legion Post 328 Auxiliary has 104 members.
Memorial ceremonies were also held at the St. John’s and Yankee cemeteries.
A Memorial Day Prayer from the Catholic Church reads as follows:
On this day we remember the sacrifices made for us
by those who were willing to give their lives
to ensure our own would be spent in freedom.
Let us never forget to pray, not only for the dead,
but also for those still living and working
in the cause of freedom around the world.
As we celebrate and enjoy this time,
give comfort and grace to those men and women
who have sacrificed so much for our sake.
St. Martin, St. George and St. Joan of Arc:
pray for the protection of our soldiers in their efforts,
and bring them home safely at the end of their duties
wherever that home may be. Amen.