GERING — Memorial Day is a holiday for remembrance and for spectators at the American Legion Gering Post 36 Memorial Day Ceremony Monday, it was an opportunity to recognize the men and women who lost their lives serving their country. Monday’s ceremony also acknowledged those still struggling with the trials of war and those who died in the passed year.

The ceremony began with a welcome by Mary Bowman, commander of the American Legion Post 36.

“This day is sacred,” Bowman said. “We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in the service of our country and of those others who have dropped their burden by the wayside of life and have gone to their eternal rest.”

As the ceremony gave time to reflect upon the freedoms Americans enjoy because of the sacrifices troops made, Post 36 member AJ Trook prayed, “May the good work of seeking justice for the oppressed and peace for all mankind be rewarded with success. That their sacrifices shall of been in vein. May we never fail to remember the awesome freedom that we enjoy.”

For Kevin Collins, Western Nebraska Veterans Home administrator delivered the Memorial Day address.

“In my opinion, Memorial Day is the most meaningful holiday that we have,” Collins said. “If it weren’t for those lives who made the ultimate sacrifice, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Collins shared the history of Memorial Day becoming a national holiday, which began as Decoration Day in 1868. The first holiday received its name as 5,000 participants laid wreaths and flowers on soldiers’ graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War. While the loss of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles remain in the memories of family and a nation, Collins said its also about remembering those who were left behind.

“Memorial Day, I don’t know that it’s just about those passed on serving our country,” he said. “I think it’s about those that maybe went to serve and physically came back, but mentally didn’t. Or those who were treated so badly and wanted to go back.”

He also recognized the prisoners of wars and soldiers missing in action while also calling attention to the duty of a soldier to protect the flag, which continues until the day they die. While the commercialization of Memorial Day can divert attention toward the beginning of summer and sales, Collins shared its bigger than that.

“I don’t think it’s about the sales and all the commercialism that goes with Memorial Day because I don’t think there’s enough recognition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so they can have that sale.”

Sign Up for Star-Herald.com Email Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.