PLATTSMOUTH – Area residents were once again reminded this past Monday that the freedoms they—and all Americans—enjoy did not come free.
Annual Memorial Day services in Plattsmouth and around the area made that point clear.
“From our humble beginnings as a nation to our current status as a superpower, the men and women of this great country have never hesitated to answer the call to defend our nation against its enemies, giving their all to preserve the freedoms we hold dear,” said Capt. Lauren James of the United States Air Force.
James, of the Air Force’s 338th Combat Training Squadron, was the featured speaker at ceremonies at Oak Hill Cemetery, just one of several in town that morning.
“Since the Revolutionary War, American military members have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we hold dear today,” James said.
And, that price has come high.
In her speech, James provided the somber figures of those killed on the battlefields, both here and abroad.
“During the Revolutionary War, we lost more than 25,000 freedom seekers who fought for their independence from Great Britain,” James said. “America lost more than half a million of her own during the Civil War, 525,000 Americans died in World Wars I and II, while an additional 54,000 and 58,000 brave Americans perished during the Korean and Vietnam wars.”
Besides honoring those who died in battles long ago, James also urged Americans to “remember the military personnel we’ve lost most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Today, our nation is at war, once again pitting our most precious resource – our sons and daughters – in a global fight against enemies whose fanatical ideals threaten our very way of life.”
Ceremonies began at the Cass County Courthouse Memorial Wall.
As a combined honor guard of members from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion stood at attention, short speeches and a prayer were said, followed by the placing of a leaf and poppies at the wall. A leaf represents eternity, while the poppies are a symbol of remembrance.
Similar ceremonies were held at the Blue Star Memorial, the Plattsmouth Toll Bridge, the Horning and La Platte cemeteries, as well as a flag raising ceremony at the VFW headquarters.
There were actually two ceremonies at the Oak Hill Cemetery. The first involved a flag raising at the Grand Army of the Republic section, followed by the ceremony at the VFW section that featured James’ speech.
This special day, however, is also a way to honor all those who have put on the military uniform, James said.
“As a grateful nation pays tribute to our brothers and sisters-in-arms who gave their last full measure for their country, we thank you, those who have served and continue to serve, for your service, hard work and dedication, and all you do every day for America.”
Among those from the public who attended the day’s activities was Rick Clossey.
“The ceremonies went pretty good. I like it very much.”