ELLIS — On a warm, muggy morning, members of the Ellis VFW and the community memorialized those who had given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country in a series of services at five locations.
The ceremonies began at 9 a.m. at St. John Lutheran Church Cemetery, seven miles north of Ellis, then to St. Mary Catholic Church Cemetery on the east edge of Ellis, the Washington Street bridge over Big Creek, Memorial Park downtown, concluding about 11:30 a.m. at Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Richard Wahlmeier of the Ellis VFW led each of the ceremonies, which included a rifle salute by the Ellis VFW Rifle Squad, a prayer, and members of the Ellis High School band playing “America the Beautiful,” the national anthem and taps. Local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts assisted with the laying of wreaths at each ceremony.
“On this day, forever consecrated to our heroic dead, we are assembled once again to express sincere reverence. This monument represents the resting places of many departed comrades who served in all wars. Wherever the body of a comrade lies there the ground is hallowed,” Wahlmeier recited at each stop.
“Our presence here is in solemn commemoration of all these men — an expression of our tribute to their devotion to duty, to their courage and patriotism. By their services on land, on sea and in the air they have made us their debtors, for the flag of our nation still flies over a land of free people,” he said.
Wahlmeier said each of the ceremonies is all-inclusive to each branch of the military, but at the Washington Street stop, he focuses on those who died at sea with the wreath being tossed into the water.
Taft Yates, who served in the U.S. Army Rangers and is Ellis Police chief, spoke at the Memorial Park ceremony, in front of the stone monument bearing the names of Ellis’ war dead. He talked about the legacy of the service men and women who died all U.S. wars to the current War on Terror, and also those who died during peace time.
“We are their legacy,” Yates said. “Regardless of the place or the war they fought, the purity of their sacrifice is without question, young men and women who lost their lives in order to make the freedom of others possible.
“The heroes that we remember today are not exclusive to any gender, race or religion,” he said.
He urged those in the crowd to also remember those who have lost loved ones in war, called Gold Star Families.
“As we observe Memorial Day every year, these families remember their loved ones every day of their life. It is up to us to hear their voices and support these families,” he said.