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June 10, 2011


Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon salutes

all Soldiers, veterans

By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers and veterans — past, present and future heroes — were honored at a Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon May 25 at Fort McCoy. The event was hosted by Col. David E. Chesser, garrison commander, and Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Lawson, garrison chaplain.
PHOTO: Attendees at the May 25 Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon pause for a moment of silence to honor fallen comrades. Photo by Allan Harding
Attendees at the May 25 Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon pause for a moment of silence to honor fallen comrades. (Photo by Allan Harding)

Chaplain (Col.) Thomas Phelan, the Religious Support Office (RSO) site support chaplain, presented the history of Memorial Day and recognized Soldiers and veterans for their service to the country in times of war. These veterans from past wars stood to be recognized.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was established shortly after the Civil War to honor those who died in war during service to America.

Its first observance was May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Throughout the years, Wisconsin Soldiers who have fallen during combat have been honored by parades, a moment of silence at 3 p.m., and grave-recognition ceremonies.

The wars include the War of 1812, the Blackhawk War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn, as well as service in such places as Kosovo and other contingency areas.

“You have always served with honor and distinction,” Phelan said.

Then Phelan did a roll call of veterans in attendance to honor those who served at the times of various conflicts. Two World War II veterans were present. Several others from the Vietnam Era and first Persian Gulf War also were in attendance. A number of current Soldiers attending had service in the recent operations and peace-keeping efforts.

Special music by retired Master Sgt. John Wood and his wife paid tribute to veterans as did the video “Before You Go,” a tribute to older veterans from World War II and the Korean War.

The program also featured World War II veteran Marshall Rehberg, who recounted his service in Hawaii and the South Pacific while interviewed by Lawson.

Several Soldiers provided prayers in support of Soldiers and veterans. Spc. Maria Moy, a chaplain’s assistant with the 111th Engineer Battalion of the Texas Army National Guard who is mobilizing at Fort McCoy, said she was pleased to participate in the observance.

As a first-generation Soldier in her Family, Moy said she can appreciate the service of the Soldiers before her and what it means to her as she prepares to deploy to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Robert Hatchett, of Medical Health Services at Fort McCoy, said he had served in Iraq and Kosovo and also in Katrina.

“I respect the World War II veterans and others who have served before me,” Hatchett said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have the freedoms I do.”

Hatchett also was pleased to participate in the receiving line for the older veterans and thanked them for their service.

The Fort McCoy RSO coordinated the program. For more information about RSO services or events in the Fort McCoy community, call 608-388-3258.

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