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Honoring those who have fallen

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More than 30 Ripon military veterans flank the presentation of the Colors at the opening ceremony of the annual Memorial Day recognition as the Ripon High School JROTC Honor Guard enters the Ripon ...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED May 27, 2014 1:13 a.m.

Navy Captain Chuck Roots brought tears to the eyes of some veterans at Monday morning’s Memorial Day Ceremonies at Ripon Cemetery when he challenged them to tell family members of their stories of military service they may have kept totally guarded and to themselves.

Roots said the veterans’ grandchildren are often getting only minimal knowledge of their service from history books that limit what the family may pass on and personally minimize the true cost of freedom. It’s a cost that those of the “Greatest Generation” along with Iraq, Vietnam and the other conflicts had devoted to their country to keep it free.

Roots, who is retiring as pastor of Ripon’s Free Methodist Church, has served both in the Marine Corps and in the U.S. Navy. He suggested the former GIs go into a quiet room with a grandson and talk privately about their experiences. 

Roots is gifted in his presentations, causing his audience to listen intently to what he has to say. The memorial event was no different on Monday. He stressed the need for everyone to pay attention to the current terrorism in the world that is threatening our freedoms today.

Presiding at the podium was John Franscella, commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1051. 

The opening bugle call was sounded by Past American Legion Commander Ken Lawson followed by the presentation of the Colors by the Ripon High School JROTC cadets. The cadets entered the cemetery through a funnel of more than 30 saluting veterans in attendance at the event. 

Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Linda Shelton marked cadence on her drum. She was only one of 20 women in Vietnam when she was assigned to the Second Infantry as a percussionist near the end of the conflict.

“The National Anthem” was then sung by Debra Long of Ripon followed by the Invocation by Pastor Glen Gerdes of the First Christian Reformed Church of Ripon. 

 A welcome and introduction of guests preceded short speeches by Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn, Sgt. Steve Meece of the Ripon Police Department and Paul Zeek, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen.

The Memorial Wreath Ceremony was conducted by Ripon VFW Commander John Franscella and American Legion Commander Ernie Tyhurst. A rifle salute was fired into the air by the VFW Honor Guard members and Legionnaire Ken Lawson sounded “Taps” for the reverent closure.

Legion Commander Ernie Tyhurst had read a list of names commemorating Ripon’s fallen with the Auxiliary presidents of the VFW and the American Legion struck the bell a single time for each loss. The bell was provided by the Ripon Firefighters Association for the ceremony.

Long went to the microphone a second time to sing “God Bless America” followed by the Benediction by Caleb O’Hara of the Ripon Church of Christ.

The Memorial Day pamphlet suggested that Americans should never lose focus of what Memorial Day actually represents. It’s not about beaches, picnics or auto races. It is a day to remember the battles fought and the lives lost.

“And that’s why we’re here. Let us remember. And let us pay it forward.”

Bill Bacque wrote in the program, “This Monday we should all pause, if only for a moment, from our everyday relaxation to contemplate and reflect in solemn and grateful prayer the enormous loss these countless patriots that their families have endured so that we can all enjoy our freedom, our security , and yes, even this national holiday.”

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