Ceremonies mark Memorial Day observance
MITCHELL — The 10:30 a.m. stop at the bridge over the North Platte River marked the halfway point for the pilgrims making their procession between Mitchell Valley and Mitchell cemeteries on Monday morning.
The convoy pulled up to the bridge, parking on the shoulder of the northbound lane. The Honor Guard, McKeown Post 124, Sons of the American Legion, began to form ranks near Army sergeant and two-time Afghanistan veteran Austin Gonzalez. As the crowd began to line the embankments, Gonzalez called the guard to attention and marched them halfway across the bridge.
Laura Labruska, president of the Mitchell American Legion Auxiliary, said that the stop at the bridge is part of the yearly Memorial Day procession. Labruska said 200 veterans are interred at the Mitchell Valley cemetery and 305 are interred at the Mitchell cemetery. Scouts and volunteer children place poppy garland at the cemeteries in memory of those who served and sacrificed for our country.
Commander of the Mitchell Sons, Rich Peters, gave the opening remarks.
“Today we walk in the memory of those who forever hold the burden of our freedom,” Peters said. “We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in service to our country, and also of the relatives, friends and loved ones who have dropped their burdens by the wayside of life and gone to the eternal rest.”
Peters said that looking through history, one can be inundated with accounts of bravery, heroism and sacrifice — stories that resonate deeply even decades later. The strength, courage and character shown by the brave sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines has paved the way for a continued service and the enjoyment of the freedoms we have today.
“That is why it is important — in fact, imperative — that we remember them always,” Peters said.
Following Peters’ remarks, Pastor Rick Reisig delivered a short address.
“We are making a journey today and we are halfway through it,” Reisig said.
The stop at the bridge marked the memorial of those who served and died at sea.
“We never met most of the people who gave their very lives for us,” he said. “But we celebrate the freedoms they gave us each and every day.
“Jesus said that there is no greater love that anyone could have than to lay down his own life for a friend, so we honor those now who gave their lives upon the sea — many whom were buried there and never returned home.”
A wreath was floated on the North Platte River to honor four Navy veterans: Richard Bartow and Horace Quivey, sailors who died at sea during World War I, Naaman Chapman who died at sea during World War II, and Howard Kenyon, who is buried at Mitchell Cemetery.
Scouts Wyatt Sauer and Rylan Houk presented the wreath to the river.
The Honor Guard then fired a rifle salute and taps was played.