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by Patty Cheffey
Cooler than normal temperatures did not stop around 100 people from taking time to honor the veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Memorial Day ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery Monday morning.
Two guest speakers, Annette Hoskins with the Great River Honor Flight, and Jason Janes, a veteran of the United States Air Force, were featured at the event, sponsored by the Boots-Dickson American Legion Post #174 of Palmyra.
In his speech, which he noted was written by the Disabled American Veterans organization, Janes reminded those attending that while COVID has made Memorial Day celebrations look a little differently than in the past two years, the “memories and emotions this day brings are always the same.”
Janes further noted the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price as a “true expression of selfless service” and especially told the story of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who will become the first Black service member to receive the Medal of Honor in actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite being drenched in fuel after an explosion ruptured a fuel cell on their vehicle, Cashe pulled six of his comrades out of the burning vehicle then insisted on being the last person on a medical evacuation helicopter. He and four others made the ultimate sacrifice joining the ranks of “heroes taken from us far too soon”, Janes said.
“We may not know what was going through his mind, but we know Sergeant 1st Class Alwyn Cashe loved his soldiers,” he added.
Janes also thanked the family members of those soldiers who have died, noting Memorial Day is just a reminder of what they experience every day in the loss of their loved ones.
In speaking on the Great River Honor Flight, for which Hoskins serves as the board’s secretary, she noted how the Honor Flight began, including how it was started in the Tri-State area in 2009.
While flights have been suspended at least through August of this year, to date, the Great River Honor Flight has taken 57 flights with 1,855 local veterans. Of those, 240 were from Marion County and 61 from Palmyra.
“It is an amazing program and one we have to keep supporting,” she said, noting all flights are paid for through donations.
Hoskins invited any veteran who has not had the opportunity to be on an Honor Flight to contact here. Currently, she said, there is about a two year wait time for a flight.
In welcoming those attending Monday’s event, Commander Rick Hoenes noted the day encourages the feelings of honor, patriotism and gratefulness for those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Following the speeches, Dannah Spratt, last year’s Poppy Girl, who was filling in for this year’s who could not make the event, laid a wreath at the base of the flag.
That was followed by the traditional 21 gun salute and the playing of Taps by members of the American Legion.
Singing America the Beautiful, The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America were members of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Chaplain Dale Elston led those attending in prayer.
At the close of the service, Hoenes challenged those attending to remember and honor veterans each and every day not use Memorial Day.