ELMWOOD – The 75th anniversary of one of the turning points of World War II will be marked with many celebrations over the next two weeks.
Elmwood residents took time Monday morning to remember those who served the country not only on D-Day but in all American military operations.
U.S. Army Reserve Captain Jase Blunt used the upcoming anniversary of D-Day as the focal point for his keynote speech at Elmwood’s Memorial Day service. An estimated 85 people came to Elmwood Cemetery to take part in a ceremony that featured songs, speeches, prayers and a gun salute.
Operation Overlord – best known as the D-Day invasion – took place on June 6, 1944, and changed the course of World War II. The mission allowed Allied troops to gain a foothold in northern Europe at a time when Germany controlled much of the continent. Allied victories in multiple battles caused Germany to surrender 11 months later in May 1945.
Blunt said everyone present at Elmwood’s ceremony would experience similar turning points in their lives. These could include career choices, marriage, diagnosis of diseases, family decisions or crisis management situations.
For some residents, their D-Day events happened many years ago. For others, it could be many years away. Blunt said the critical component of all of those moments was not when they would happen, but how people would respond to them.
“I pose to you this question: when is your D-Day?” Blunt said. “Everyone has one or two in their lives…When was your last D-Day? When was the last time you made a sacrifice to improve yourself or your community?”
Blunt said it was important for people to remember they could help others in a variety of ways through their D-Day choices. Soldiers arrived in Europe from both boat and airplane and landed in many sites along the coast of northern France. Their specific missions may have looked different, but they all had the same goal of helping Allied nations win the war.
“The route the solider took didn’t matter,” Blunt said. “What mattered is that they were there.”
Blunt said he also wanted local residents to remember those who perished on battlefields either on American soil or abroad. He said the efforts of people over the past three centuries had paved the way for the freedoms found in the nation in 2019.
“Today, between the barbecues, hamburgers and potato salad, let us take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Blunt said.
Blunt is a civil affairs team leader for Bravo Company of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion of the United States Army Reserve. The Elmwood-Murdock graduate enlisted in the Army Reserve’s military police unit in 1996 and received his commission in 2010.
He has been a team leader, battle non-commissioned officer, platoon leader and detachment commander. Blunt has been part of U.S. troop deployments in both Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).
Blunt lives in Gretna and is a captain with the Omaha Fire Department. He is part of a leadership team responsible for training the 650-person department. He owns a master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in fire science management from Anna Maria College.
Retired U.S. Navy serviceman Jeff Johnston welcomed people to the Memorial Day service and introduced Blunt and other speakers. He also led a memorial service for World War II veteran Oral Kuehn, who passed away in September 2018. Johnston said the former American Legion Post 247 member played a vital role in helping both Elmwood and the entire country.
“Because of them, our lives are free,” Johnston said. “Because of them, our nation lives.”
Elmwood-Murdock Class of 2020 students Chloe Hosier and Constence Baker both offered their talents for the ceremony. Hosier, who is Elmwood-Murdock’s 2019 Cornhusker Girls State representative, provided a history of Memorial Day by reading General Logan’s Order Number 11. Baker sang the national anthem at the beginning of the event and later showcased her musical skills with “God Bless America.”
Rev. Dianna Clark of Elmwood Christian Church provided an invocation and benediction, and State Senator Robert Clements played “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Taps” on trumpet. Christian Brettmann, Odin Janssen, Noam Reiter, Brandt Jacobson and Rebecca Brettmann placed memorial wreaths during the ceremony. They are members of local Boy and Girl Scout troops.
Janssen, Reiter, Jacobson and Christian Brettmann later participated in a flag-folding ceremony. They carefully folded an American flag while Boy Scouts Pack 360 representative Nathan Brettmann read the meanings of each step to the crowd.
American Legion Post 247 Commander Bonnie Brewer said post members are beginning to prepare for a major milestone next year. American Legion Post 247 will be commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2020. Members are asking area residents to provide ideas for possible centennial celebration events.
Residents who have historical photographs, memories of past Memorial Day services or ideas for future celebration events may contact Brewer at either 402-994-5315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.