Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Honor and service: Community pays tribute on Memorial Day

Staff Writer | May 30, 2023 1:00 AM

One is a soldier who served on a Fletcher-class destroyer in World War II.

Another served in the 508 Infantry in the 82nd Airborne Division, becoming a Golden Knight — the U.S. Army's elite parachute team.

And still another is a 1953 Sandpoint High School graduate who went missing during his third tour in Vietnam.

All are part of the "Hometown Veterans" exhibit dedicated during a brief Memorial Day ceremony at the Sandpoint VFW Post 2453.

"Some kid can come in here and go, 'That's my grandpa on the wall' and learn the story of his service," VFW Post 2453 Commander Ken Hunt told those gathered for the brief ceremony.

All photos and stories are welcome and will be added to the exhibit as family members share them, Hunt told the several dozen gathered for the event.

"I thought this would be a great day to do this … to remember the guys and gals that are gone and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice," Hunt said.

Tucked in between services held at the two Sandpoint cemeteries — first at Pinecrest followed by a tribute at Lakeview — the dedication pays tribute to the men and women from the community who served.

"Honor," Bryan Hult, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and Bonner County Veterans Services officer, told those gathered for Memorial Day services at Pinecrest and Lakeview cemeteries on Monday. "Honor is due those who are laid to rest here and in thousands of cemeteries in the U.S. and around the world."

Why did they die, though, Hult asked the crowd. Why did so many of the country's brave men and women die in battles in the U.S. and around the world — 620,000 in the Civil War, 417,000 in World War II, 116,000 in World War I, 58,000 in Vietnam and 36,000 in Korea?

"Was it because the United States wants to control the world? Is it because the United States is an oppressive nation? Is it because we are a privileged nation forcing our ideas on other nations? Is it because we are terrorists looking for a fight," he asked those gathered. "Absolutely not."

These men and women put on the sacred cloth of the nation, and humbly obeyed the orders of their country and superiors to serve.

"They wanted to stay home, have picnics, eat hot dogs, and have apple pie," Hult said. "They grew up in a culture where respect for others and honor mattered. They lived in an America where the founding fathers wanted freedom from an oppressive King George."

The Founding Fathers outlined their grievances — 27 in all, detailing the repeated injuries and abuses that led to their seeking their freedom. With a firm reliance in "the protection of a divine Providence," they pledged their lives, fortunes and honor to the fledgling government.

"Who would stop the wickedness of King George? Patriots," Hult said. "Patriots who believed that all people had an inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Not personal chasing after happiness, but the right of people to enjoy the condition of happiness and government was to ensure that inalienable right would not be infringed."

That same dedication and honor would be repeated in World War I and World War II when the country's young men and women put their lives aside in service to their country, Hult said.

"Those patriots, they wanted to stay home," he added. "They wanted to get a job, work hard, get married, have wonderful children who would grow up in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"They were not oppressive. They love their country. They love their flag. They love their moms and dads and sisters and brothers and friends all over the United States. And they were willing to give up their lives so that others could enjoy life, liberty, and the condition of happiness."

They had a greater love for their country, their flag and their families, Hult said.

"They shed their blood so we could have freedom in life, liberty and the condition of happiness," he added. "They laid down their lives so we could have physical freedoms."

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. According to the original 1868 proclamation by Gen. John A. Logan the day was “designed for the purpose of strewing flowers and otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”



Bryan Hult, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and Bonner County Veterans Services officer, salutes as "Taps" is played during Monday's Memorial Day ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery.



A speech by Bryan Hult is signed so that a local resident can join in the Memorial Day ceremony at Pinecrest Cemetery on Monday.



Members of the Marine Corps League honor guard salute as "Taps" is played at Lakeview Cemetery during Monday's Memorial Day tribute.



Veteran Julie Washburn listens to the Memorial Day ceremony at Pinecrest Cemetery on Monday.



A pair of veterans salute during the playing of "Taps" at Monday's Memorial Day ceremony at Pinecrest Cemetery.

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