The sound of taps filled the air on a cool, breezy Memorial Day morning as a smaller-than-normal crowd gathered to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to their country.
Fewer than 20 people, including those who were running the event, gathered for the annual American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony Monday at Grand Forks Memorial Park Cemetery.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held with social distancing guidelines in place. The event was livestreamed on the Grand Forks Herald website so members of the public could remotely watch the program.
Though the setting was a little different than most years, the sentiment remained.
“Every crisis has new heroes,” Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said during the keynote address.
During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks it was the first-responders who ran into the buildings to save lives; now, during the coronavirus pandemic, health care professionals are putting themselves at risk, Brown said. But other heroes exist as well, he noted. During the pandemic, grocery workers, delivery drivers and other essential employees are risking their health so society can continue.
“These heroes have much more in common with the people we honor today, America’s fallen veterans,” he said. “They are men and women who have sacrificed their own lives so others could live. They are both elite and ordinary. They are elite in the sense of character – giving your life so that others could live is the ultimate definition of selfless. They are ordinary in the fact that they represent the diverse fabric of this country.”
Brown also shared the stories of many veterans and medics who have given everything to their country.
“This Memorial Day, as we continue to honor who fell for us in battle, let us also pause to remember those that have also sacrificed their lives while serving others,” he said. “May God bless them and may God bless you for remembering them today.”
The event included an invocation by Paul Robinette, Post 6 chaplain, some appropriate readings and the presentation of wreaths in memory of the Grand Army of the Republic, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Grenada/Lebanon/Panama, Persian Gulf War, Iraq Conflict, Afghanistan, and “all who perished on land, sea or air.”
Diane Kraemer, of the American Legion Auxiliary, read "In Flanders Field" and David Kaufman of Post 6 read "General Logan's Memorial Day Order" as military members in attendance stood at attention. Herb Thompson, of the Grand Forks City Band, played taps toward the end of the program.