With prayers and patriotism, members and friends of American Legion Post 347 gathered Friday at Lady Lake Cemetery to commemorate the traditional Memorial Day on May 30.
“This day is a noble remembrance of those who have gone before,” said Tim Tierney, post commander. “Because of them, our lives are free.”
The commemorative event featured the placing of wreaths, reading the names of those who died and the singing of “The National Anthem” and “God Bless America” by Ralph Dinome. It included a rifle salute, prayers led by post chaplain Joerg Wartenberg and the playing of “Taps” by Joy Goff.
Guest speaker John Sievertson, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general, said 850,000 Americans have died in combat since the Revolutionary War and the nation has recorded 1.3 million military deaths.
He said the National Holiday Act of 1971, which switched Memorial Day and other holidays to Mondays to allow three-day weekends, trivialized this holiday.
“I hate the often-heard ‘Happy Memorial Day,’” said Sievertson, who served as commander of Air Force One during the Reagan and first Bush presidencies. “To me, this is a somber day for reflection and remembrance.”
He said this Memorial Day has particular significance because of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the World War II D-Day invasion and the 150th anniversary of the founding of Arlington Cemetery, both next month.
A trumpet player in high school in college, Sievertson said the playing of “Taps” has special meaning for him.
Every time I hear it, the handkerchiefs and tissues come out and the tears begin to flow,” he said.
Sievertson said “Taps” replaced another military song known as “Lights Out” in 1862 and soon became a part of military funerals.