CLINTON — This nation has lost countless llves through numerous wars. On Memorial Day in Clinton, it was personal.
Lt. Col. Wes Golden, a veteran of the National Guard, spoke of fallen comrades he knew during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russell Steen, who delivered the Moose Lodge Memorial Monday at Clinton’s Lawn Cemetery, said he remembered where he was when he learned people he knew died in combat.
To them, Memorial Day isn’t a day to start summer. It isn’t even a day for veterans like them.
Rather, it’s the constant reminder that Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others.
“It’s a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service, and it’s more than just the beginning of summer,” Golden said during his Memorial Day address. “For veterans who have served it means something different, as you have already found out today.”
He named three people he served with, their ages and the families they left behind.
“Freedom has a terrible cost,” Golden said. “The men and women we honor today lived their lives and personified the values that have created the backbone of our nation.”
Hundreds turned out to the cemetery to witness a 45-minute program. The event featured patriotic music from the River City Municipal Band, a 21-gun salute from local AMVETS, commemorative Taps from Bill Hall, a tribute to 130 local veterans who died in the last year and speeches by Golden, Steen, City Councilman Tom Determann and other area veterans.
Lum Baker, American Legion Post 402 chaplain, said Americans must never forget those who protected their rights.
“Our children must know who they were, what they did and why they did it,” Baker said. “To do anything less would be a disservice.”
Steen said the pain of loss is a familiar one to him. It makes him appreciate fallen heroes that much more.
Following a number of tributary speeches, Eugene Steensen read the names of those who died since the last Memorial Day. The list included veterans from several wars — Vietnam, Korea, World War II. One hero, Lt. Louis Longman — a World War II pilot — was honored in his first Memorial Day after being missing in action for more than 70 years.
“Thank you, to all of our veterans,” Steen said.