A little storm damage did not deter a large crowd of over 100 strong from gathering in Salina on a windy, warm ,and humid Memorial Day to remember, and honor, those who have died so that we might all be free.
Following brief cemetery services at Gypsum Hill Cemetery and at Roselawn Cemetery, events culminated with a large gathering at the Saline County War Memorial in Sunset Park.
When the morning began, the park was littered with debris including downed trees and power poles, following overnight storms. Salina Police Sgt. Brent Rupert made it a priority to get things cleared away in time for the ceremony.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Richard Fisher spoke. Fisher, who is the commander of Salina Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1432 and the Salina Disabled American Veterans organization, spoke about the history of Memorial Day. He said it dates back to the civil war era when graves of veterans were decorated.
Fisher said the focus of Memorial Day should not be about picnics and barbecues, but rather about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. “Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance, if we preserve their memory we preserve their sacrifice,” he said.
Fisher ended with a quote. Quoting General George Patton he said “it is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
One notable person who was not at the ceremony Monday was Jack Gallagher, who for 43 years served as the Sgt at Arms for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies. This was the first ceremony in decades without Gallagher, who passed away in December.
Gallagher was there in spirit, though. Former Marine Dan Pestinger, who performed Gallagher’s duty, stood beside a memorial pedestal he erected for his friend, with one of Gallagher’s dress Marine caps on it.
The event this year was a bit more colorful. American flags were handed out to the crowd. Pestinger credited Ace Hardware with donating the flags.
The Salina ceremony ended with a moment of silence, a 21 gun salute, and “Taps”.
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