Moving ceremony marks Memorial Day
At 18 years old, John Garrison is about two weeks away from his graduation from Park City High School, a time when seniors like him are usually celebrating the end of their days in high school.
But Garrison spent part of his Memorial Day weekend, a traditional time to party for seniors, reflecting on America’s war dead as he visited the Park City Cemetery on Kearns Boulevard to participate in a commemoration.
"Your job here today is to honor the people who serve," said Garrison, who is a cadet lieutenant colonel on the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary unit to the Air Force that performs search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief, among other duties. "It’s humbling to see the sacrifice."
The ceremony Monday morning was similar to those organized at the cemetery in previous years, with veterans, clergymen and local leaders gathering with regular Parkites to remember soldiers killed on the battlefield.
The cemetery was crowded as others visited the graves of loved ones, and organizers of the Memorial Day ceremony say about 100 people attended. A trumpeter played the National Anthem, the American flag was slowly raised and the crowd listened to speakers and a prayer. A Park City Fire District honor guard, with firefighters dressed in formal uniforms and carrying polished axes, participated,
Mayor Dana Williams mentioned some of Park City’s soldiers in his brief remarks, saying he was pleased that Adam Kelley, who is a PCHS graduate, had returned from Iraq. An explosion from a roadside bomb injured Kelley in March.
"Adam, it’s great to have you home again," the mayor, who has known Kelley since the soldier was a child, said.
Williams also said the Memorial Day ceremony should not be a partisan affair. Instead, he urged the crowd, the day was a time to contemplate the role of the soldiers who are serving now.
"It’s imperative we think positively," he said.
Bob Kaylor, the pastor at Park City Community Church, who said a short prayer at the ceremony, said afterward people are usually more attentive to Memorial Day when the U.S. is at war. Kaylor, who served as an infantryman in the National Guard from 1981 until 1991, said he was pleased with the turnout.
"Anytime a country is at war, people’s awareness is heightened to these things. They want to do something," Kaylor said.
Kelley, in an interview after the ceremony, said he was surprised Williams mentioned him. He said people in the crowd thanked him for his service in Iraq and asked him how he is recovering from the roadside bomb.
"I was moved. It was nice he did that. He’s always been a good friend," Kelley, who is 23 years old and was stationed in Iraq from August 2007 until April 2008, said about the mayor.
Kelley, meanwhile, said he wants Americans to honor Vietnam War veterans the way they do people who fought in other wars.
"They need to be thanked, because they’ve done it, too," he said, adding, "They’ve gone overseas and fought for their country."
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