Nebraskans and people throughout the United States carried the solemn tradition Monday of honoring the fallen of U.S. wars.
Nebraska U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said those servicemen and women died protecting the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by all Americans. Fischer provided the keynote address during the Memorial Day program Monday morning at Parkview Cemetery, which was organized by the Adams County Veterans Service Office.
“Today we are here to uphold that noble cause,” she said. “We honor the fallen of wars and we recall their valor and noble service. On this day we pay tribute to our heroes who answered the call when our nation needed their help the most.”
She said, according to reports published by the Congressional Research Service, more than 4,000 Nebraskans have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the nation during World War I, World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Seventy-seven Nebraskans lost their lives through combat-related incidents in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I am proud to stand with you today as we honor and remember them and I want to thank their families, who carry a heroic burden of their own,” she said.
Fischer mentioned acts in Nebraska taken to remember fallen military members, including in Holstein where residents dedicated a street in 2017 in the name of Army Sgt. Wayne Cornell, who was killed in action on March 20, 2007.
She also cited the work of Vanessa Taylor, a high school student in Ainsworth, and her teacher, Nichole Flynn, who brought the story of two twin brothers from Nebraska to life. Julius and Ludwig Pieper of Creston, were both stationed on a Landing Ship Tank called Stardust off the coast of Normandy during World War II.
When the vessel struck an underwater magnetic mine, both brothers were killed. Ludwig’s remains were found, but Julius’s name was etched on the Wall of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in France.
Taylor and Flynn contacted the brothers’ family, the National Archives, and the Department of Defense’s Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Agency. After thorough research, authorities were able to find a match for Julius’s remains and he was buried next to his twin brother.
The Washington Post chronicled Taylor and Flynn’s work.
Also during the service representatives from American Legion Post 11, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1346 lowered the flag to half staff.
The quartet Four on the Floor — Richard Johnson, Ray Crowl, Warren Hull and Caden Hoffman — sang the national anthem.
The Rev. Harold King provided the invocation and benediction.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance by the assembly, representatives of 16 civic, patriotic and fraternal organizations placed wreaths.
The groups included the American Legion, DAV and VFW and auxiliaries; Daughters of the American Revolution; Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War; WWI Barracks Auxiliary; Elks Lodge No. 159 and B.P.O. Does 112; Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 592 and Auxiliary; Knights of Columbus; Hastings Fire Department; and Hastings Police Department.
Hastings High School instrumentalists provided a medley of patriotic music under the direction of Erin Beave. Members of Boy Scout Troop No. 192 presented a flag-folding ceremony.
Dan Spencer and Jerry Knapp played taps and echo, respectively.
Afterward, the honor guard presented military rites at Sunset Memorial Gardens with a lunch at the DAV Club.
Rob Osman, who served as master of ceremonies for the Memorial Day service, shared a similar sentiment as Fischer in his welcome.
“We gather here every year at this ceremony to give our thanks, show our appreciation and to remember the many men and women who sacrificed everything for the defense of our country and our way of life,” he said. “Our thoughts may immediately go to one particular time or place where our leaders felt the need to draw a line in the sand or rise up to defend our allies or our principles. But in fact we’ve been doing this since the founding of our great nation. time and again, we’ve asked our men and women in uniform to step forward and take up arms; to show the world our incredible resolve.”
On Tuesday his youngest son will report for basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
King also mentioned he has two sons who served in the military.