For 12 years Wayne Harris has presided over Memorial Day ceremonies at the Big Lake Cemetery as commander of Big Lake Legion Post 147.
Monday, May 25, Harris stood before members of the community one last time before handing off the leadership of Post 147 to Paul Seefeld.
It was a setting Harris or the other members of Post 147 never imagined.
Families were gathered together in small clusters and keeping their distance from the very people with whom for years they had stood in solidarity with as the community honored the heroes who had served in the nation’s Armed Forces.
“I wish we had the honor of a regular Memorial Day ceremony honoring our deceased veterans,” Harris said.
“But as we know well, we have had the misfortune of the COVID-19 which has changed all our plans,” he continued.
That meant no inspirational speeches or time spent with friends and family at the annual Memorial Day picnic hosted by the Legion Auxiliary.
But those attending the Memorial Day ceremony still were able to honor deceased veterans of the Big Lake area who have been laid to rest in the Big Lake Cemetery, the Catholic Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery, Orrock Cemetery, and Blue Hill Cemetery. Local veterans not buried in the Big Lake-area cemeteries were also recognized.
After Harris handed off leadership of the Legion to Paul Seefeld, Seefeld led those gathered at Big Lake Cemetery in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Post Chaplain Dennis Gail then shared some words of faith and inspiration.
People are going through a time in their lives that is stressful, very confusing, and very trying. It is a time of uneasiness and a time of fear, Gail said.
Many ask themselves what they can do in these times that many have never experienced, he said.
Come and remember those who have lost their lives during wars, and those who lived through those times but are gone now, Gail asked.
“Many answered the call so we can have peace and freedom in our lives,” Gail said.
“Never let us forget. Let us honor those who served and those who are serving now,” he said.
Following the reading of the names of veterans laid to rest in the Big Lake area and a 21-gun salute from the Legion Color Guard in their honor, Seefeld noted that veterans should always be remembered because the freedom we enjoy today is in large part due to the sacrifices of those veterans.
Seefeld also took time to recognize those presently serving in the Armed Forces.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org