The Village of Jeffersonville held its annual Memorial Day service on Monday morning after being unable to hold it due to COVID-19 last year.
Starting off the service at the Jeffersonville Veterans Memorial, Parade Chairman Mark Hoppes thanked the community for stopping out and explained that last year was the first time in around three decades the village was not able to hold a Memorial Day event. Following an invocation by Mell Wickensimer from Grace Methodist Church, Hoppes led the crowd in the “Pledge of Allegiance” and The National Anthem was played.
Next, the keynote speaker for the event — State Representative Mark Johnson (R – Chillicothe) for the 92nd District — took to the podium to honor the men and women of the armed forces who have laid down their lives for the country. Johnson also took time to wish his significant other, Kelli Richardson, along with Lisa Peterson (wife of Bob Peterson) a happy birthday.
“I never looked at Memorial Day as a happy day,” Johnson said. “But rather (I look at it) as a solemn day of dignity to honor those who went before us to fight for freedom, those who lost their lives in uniform. That is what this day is all about. I grew up in peace time and most people in my generation inherited freedom. A freedom that the greatest generation fought for. My father was in the Normandy invasion, and he was fortunate to come back. We went to see ‘Saving Private Ryan’ before he passed away, and I asked him — as my father never spoke of wartime —, ‘Is this a pretty good depiction of wartime?’ And he said it was probably the best depiction at the time in film, but that the water was red with American blood. He said that the night before they were to invade Normandy, the men were told, ‘Everyone look around, 50 percent of you probably won’t come back.’ That is the price of freedom.”
Johnson continued and said that, for him, he has seen the cost of freedom in places like the VA hospitals and the veteran cemeteries of the country.
“Sometimes I cringe when someone says happy Memorial Day, as it isn’t a happy day, it is a day we need to take to honor those brave souls,” Johnson said. “Today in America, people see it as a three-day weekend, a barbeque. And many in the retail business like to offer sales, but it is about those who gave all. I find myself sometimes questioning why things are the way they are, but it is the price we pay for freedom. It was a pleasure to be here today, and I want you all to think about this: freedom is not free and freedom is about those who went off to serve. May God bless those who served. May God bless those who died. And may God bless America.”
Finally, prior to the presentation of the flag by Boy Scout Troops 67 and 112 and Cub Scout Pack 67, Tracey Rankin Owens talked about the importance of Memorial Day and dedicated a wreath to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the United States.
“This day is about remembering those who fought for our freedom,” Owens said. “It is not about the picnics, it is not about the ball games, it is about those who gave all. Take some time today to go visit your loved ones at the cemetery. It is a day to remember. In honor of those who have gone before us, the George Clinton chapter Daughters of the American Revolution would like to replace this wreath on the memorial.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.