Memorial Day is a day of solemn reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the US military. This Memorial Day, I attended a ceremony hosted by the American Legion in La Pine, Oregon – attended by around 200 people, 150 of whom were Veterans.
Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials and adorning the graves of relatives or community members who served with flags, flowers, or other decorations. Service members, Veterans, and their families (SMVF) often attend community events to honor and grieve on Memorial Day each year.
The ceremony I attended began with a welcome from Curtis Cray, the Commander of the American Legion Post 45. Then, the fire department raised the American flag and lowered it to half-mast a sign of honor recognizing the fallen service members. The Mayor of La Pine, Daniel Richer, delivered a speech honoring the ultimate sacrifice of the men and women protecting our freedoms, which resonated with the many community members attending the event. The American Legion Honor Guard marched in and performed the 21-gun salute – a gesture of high honor. Two buglers played a variation of TAPS, with an echo effect where one starts playing and the second starts playing a few seconds later. Their rendition of TAPS solemnly and poignantly concluded the ceremony.
Events like this ceremony are powerful places for SMVF communities to gather around shared values, build connections with one another, share resources, and process grief. It was an honor to attend this event as a Veteran and a representative of Line for Life’s Military Helpline.
By Coby Heath