Park City remembers fallen soldiers on poignant Memorial Day
Crowd at ceremony hears of heroism and is urged to hire veterans
THE PARK RECORD
Park City commemorated Memorial Day with a ceremony that at times followed tradition by honoring the nation’s fallen soldiers and at other moments recounted the situation experienced by many warriors once they return to the homeland after having served abroad.
The ceremony was held at the Park City Cemetery Monday morning under a blazing blue skies as a crowd of approximately 150 people – veterans, several political figures and rank-and-file Parkites – marked the nation’s most hallowed holiday with inspiring words and Memorial Day protocol.
Many of the graves were decorated in recent days as the holiday approached. There were people seen visiting gravesites in addition to the crowd gathered for the ceremony itself.
The Park City post of the American Legion organized the event on Monday, drawing from its ranks as well as from outside the group for the event. Glenn Wright, a Vietnam War veteran and a member of the local post’s leadership, paraphrased Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in his brief remarks and noted that Memorial Day was once known as Decoration Day in the era after the Civil War. He later recalled an air mission at night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War.
The Treble Makers, a vocal group, performed the national anthem. Ken Jones, a Summit County Sheriff’s Office sergeant and an Army veteran, performed the haunting notes of taps on a bugle as the crowd stood silently.
Brian Seay, the post commander of the American Legion in Park City, told the crowd more than 1 million people have died in America’s wars as he spoke about the continuing grieving of military families. The memory of the fallen must be honored, he said.
“These heroes and those who came before them did their part,” Seay said.
Dick Gallagher, a retired Navy vice admiral who lives in Midway, spoke to the crowd about a visit to a World War I cemetery in Belgium as he told of the importance of military families and those who work for the free society of the U.S.
“We pay tribute to their heroism,” Gallagher said.
In interviews, Seay and Gallagher spoke about the importance of the day, seen by many as the unofficial start of the summer-vacation season.
Gallagher in an interview spoke about employment opportunities for veterans. He also noted the topic in his remarks to the crowd, telling the people gathered that hiring a veteran is good for companies and the nation. In an interview, he said veterans are well trained, mature, served under difficult conditions and are reliable.
“It makes a wonderful employee,” he said about someone having a military background, adding that veterans may not realize what sort of resources are available to them as they seek employment in the private sector.
Seay said soldiers have died this year in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. He said the current conflict, essentially the war on terrorism, continues. Soldiers of today “have settled in that it’s going to take a while,” he said.
“Because it’s been going on so long, a lot of folks are numb to it, not very aware of the conflict, the human toll,” Seay said.
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The Park City Council on Thursday declared June as Pride Month, indicating it fits well with City Hall’s social equity efforts and acknowledging the proclamation was at least partially inspired by a recent controversy in Heber City regarding the flying of rainbow flags.