Memorial Day good time to reflect on importance of democracyThe wind whipped a cavalcade of flags Monday as area residents gathered in Graceland Cemetery to decorate graves and honor deceased family and friends on Memorial Day.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
The wind whipped a cavalcade of flags Monday as area residents gathered in Graceland Cemetery to decorate graves and honor deceased family and friends on Memorial Day.
Linda J. Johnson, a Sioux Falls chaplain and author of “Living In The Shadow Of The Iraq Conflict,” told the crowd Monday of her early memories of Memorial Day, including decorating the grave of a father who died when Johnson was a young girl.
She also spoke of the importance of telling others tales of those who have died.
“One of the most important things a family can do on Memorial Day is remember and share those memories of a loved one,” Johnson said.
For City Councilman Mel Olson, who also spoke, part of living in a democratic society means being active within the system.
“People should vote in elections, run for office, write letters to the editor and volunteer in the community. I think we just take things for granted,” Olsen said. “It just seems to me that if we’re not vigilant about democracy, it’s going to slip away from us.”
Olson, a longtime Mitchell teacher, former legislator and councilman, conveyed these and other sentiments Monday as part of a Memorial Day program.
During his speech, Olson spoke not only about commemorating the veterans that have died but also that people need to “fulfill our responsibility as citizens that they fought to protect.”
In White Lake, residents had an additional reason to celebrate and reflect.
More than 50 area residents gathered for the groundbreaking at the planned site for Memorial Plaza in White Lake.
Mark Gillen, chairperson of the Memorial Plaza committee, said community members have been working for a year to raise money for the plaza which, when completed, will honor veterans, homesteaders, deceased friends and family and area churches as well as the 1935 landing of the Explorer II high-altitude balloon near White Lake.
Gillen, who spearheaded the project, said more than $30,000 has been raised for the project.
A series of stones are planned to be erected on the site. The land, located on White Lake’s Main Street, was donated to the project by Perry and Karen Peterson.
“We wondered six months ago whether or not we were going to make it, but people really came around,” Gillen said Monday before the ceremony began.
One of the people honored at the groundbreaking was Donald Headley, a 98-year-old veteran who served in World War II.
Gillen, who appeared slightly emotional later when he was given a standing ovation for his efforts, said the plaza will be a “huge source of pride for the community.”
“It kind of draws all our history into one place,” Gillen said. “Our people are our history.”