The back room of the Hemingford American Legion Post #9 Hall was filled on the morning of Monday, May 27 for the Memorial Day Service.
With rain in the forecast the flags along the Avenue of Flags remained tucked discreetly under their covers in the back of the room. It is always sad when the flags cannot be displayed,however, keeping them from getting wet is a major concern as the process of drying them out is no easy feat.
The service began with Chaplain Troy Sorensen welcomed the crowd and asked them to stand as the Color Guard Entered. They remained standing as the Pledge of Allegiance was said led by Harper, Jade, Lanee, Libby, Porter, and Christian Sorensen along with Sophia Gomez. The national anthem was then beautifully sung by Riley Wright.
Students from Hemingford High School and members of the American Legion Auxiliary Post #9 then took turns reading the names of deceased veterans who either have ties to the area or are buried in local cemeteries. This is always a moving moment as the number grows bigger and bigger with each passing year.
Eric Sorensen then played a nice selection of patriotic music on the piano.
Troy Sorensen once again took to the podium to welcome the speaker for the service.
“Major Tim Buskirk is a 1997 Hemingford High School graduate,” Sorensen said. “He joined Nebraska Army National Guard in 1998 as a Wheeled Vehicle Operator in the 1057th Transportation Company headquartered in Chadron in order to pay his tuition at Chadron State College. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return he graduated from Chadron State College with Bachelors of Arts.”
Buskirk was hired full time with the U.S. Forest Service shortly thereafter and is currently District Ranger for the Pine Ridge Ranger district. He continues to serve as a logistics officer in the Nebraska Army National Guard.
“Memorial Day is a time for Americans to reconnect with their history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives,” Buskirk said. “More than a million American service members died in conflicts that this Nation has fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775. Each person who died during those conflicts was a loved one, cherished by family and friends. Each was a loss to their communities and our Nation.”
“The observation of this day was born of compassion and empathy in 1863. As the Civil War raged; grieving mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, and other loved ones were cleaning and placing flowers on Confederates graves in Columbus, Mississippi. While they were doing that they noticed that nearby there were Union Soldier graves that were dusty and covered in weeds. Grieving for their own fallen soldiers the confederate women understood that the confederate soldiers buried nearby were the cherished loved ones from families and communities far away. They cleared their graves and laid flower for them as well… soon the tradition of Decoration Day spread,” Buskirk continued.
On May 5th, 1866, a drug store owner in New York closed his doors and suggested that other shops also close for the day to honor all of the fallen soldiers as a
“It was a gesture of healing and reconciliation in a land ripped apart by conflict,” Buskirk said. “Sixteen years later the nation observed its first official Memorial Day … We see ceremonies continue today in places like here in Hemingford. I hope that you remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“Sadly, many Americans have lost this connection with our history,” he said. “Memorial Day has simply come to mean a three day weekend or a major shopping day. Families might still gather for picnics but many of them the patriotic core; the spirit of remembrance is absent… So what can you do as one community, one family? You’re doing an important thing by being here today. You are not forgetting the sacrifices of our soldiers.
He encouraged the crowd to utilize a moment of silence as a way to celebrate Memorial Day and to teach our youth the importance of our military and our history.
Diane Olson shared an important story of a local fallen soldier named Victor Hovorka.
“He is the uncle of Louise Morava and Donna Dufek,” Olson said, “Donna was kind enough to share many, many documents and pictures about Victor’s story. … Victor was born on June 6, 1919. He became a Second Leutenient in the United States Army Air Corp and was killed in action when his plane went down on Dec. 16, 1943.”
The Honor Guard was led by Sergeant-at-Arms Jim Olson. A wreath was placed at the memorial for the Unknown Soldier, however, a service was not held there due to the weather.