It was a day of remembrance and reverence as more than 150 people gathered at Parkview Cemetery to honor those who have gone before at the annual Memorial Day program Monday morning.
John Hilgert, director of Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of Nebraska Veterans Homes, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, which included the placing of wreaths by 21 service organizations in the community, patriotic music, prayer and ceremonial flag fold.
Honored guests included Hastings Mayor Vern Powers, master of ceremonies Duane Norris, and marshal of the day Sgt. Joshua Peavy of the Nebraska Army National Guard. More than two dozen flags flapped vigorously in the strong breezes that seemed to carry the sound of distant gunfire as they reverberated through the public address system.
"So who are these men and women we honor and remember this morning?" Norris said in his introduction. "For the most part, they're everyday people, just like us. Ordinary citizens, farmers, laborers, teachers and students, merchants, clerks, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors.
"They were — as America's heroes always have been — perfectly ordinary people who did extraordinary things. They stood in defense of freedom of what's right, and to preserve from harm the home, the family, and the friends they loved. We can do no more than admire and respect and hold in our thoughts these ordinary people just like us who gave all a human being can give to preserve what they loved and allow us to love that same freedoms that made their sacrifice worthy of the price they paid."