Americans Remembered Their War Heroes both Dead or Alive
By James Kokulo Fasuekoi | The AfricaPaper
Excelsior, Minn -The Oak Hill Cemetery is a tiny graveyard atop a small hill, about a mile from downtown, Excelsior. But its history is hardly measured by its size for it is the final resting place for some of America’s veterans of foreign wars-from World War I, and II, to the Korean and Vietnam wars.
At the foot of the cemetery, west, lies Frank Mitchell (April 27, 1922-July 29, 2000), who served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II. And few yards away, is Paulson John Walter (1924-2010), another US war veteran. Both are among scores of veterans here who made great sacrifices for America.
Their stories and enormous sacrifices, in addition to those of thousands of other American war-veterans, living or dead, (including MIAs), have never gone unnoticed. Apart from the national ceremony held at the Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, Monday, May 30th, the date is celebrated throughout every small towns and big cities across the America each year.
Honor and Memories
It’s a tradition that residents of Excelsior, a city west of Minneapolis, dotted with war monuments and symbols, take very seriously and eagerly look forward to celebrate each year. And they certainly, came out in droves Monday to celebrate and honor the memories and lives of all of America’s fallen heroes and those still alive.
“I give thanks to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” said Keith C. O’Connor, a veteran of the US Gulf war. Each year, O’Connor brings along his family as well as friends and relatives of some of the deceased fallen men and women to help decorate and prepare the cemetery for the annual celebration.
“It [Memorial Day] brings the community together,” said O’Connor when asked further what he thinks of Memorial Day.
Ceremony and Activities
In downtown, Excelsior, city officials and locals, together with US Army and Navy Guard veterans participated in a brief ceremony to mark the occasion. This was followed by series of outdoor activities at Excelsior’s Lake Minnetonka Riverfront that involved military push ups, pull ups, and squats. These activities also included a two-mile walk for veteran soldiers, with attractive gifts and awards set aside for winners.
Delek Weida, an amputee and a US-Iraq War veteran, received endless cheers and applauses from the crowd as he defiled exhaustion to finish his two-mile walk in the near 80 degree heat. At the finished line, Delek who ambulated with the help of clutches had his pants and t-shirt drenched in sweat.
He told The AfricaPaper (TAP), that he had earlier completed 200 push-ups, 100 pull ups, and 300 squats before he headed for the walk. Accompanying Weida were a group of comrades, supporters and fitness trainers.
The former US soldier disclosed that he made three trips to Iraq. According to him, it was during his last mission he got wounded as a result of an IED explosion, thus resulting to the amputation of his right leg.
Love, obedience and sacrifice
In some churches at Brooklyn Center, Minn., during Sunday worship, congregations paused momentarily to reflect and honor the country’s heroes and sermons by most clergy focused on the following themes: Love, obedience and sacrifice.
Senior Pastor Joseph Fornara of Spiritual Life Church in Brooklyn Center, praised “all veterans” and expressed appreciation for their services to the United States.
He said, “service to country and God,” is about one giving his best, “not some,” and added, that’s exactly what all those who serve in the Armed Forces of the United States do.
He further made several references to Biblical passages that involved great men and women of God who obeyed God by performing their duties according to the Lord’s command and thus, received blessings and rewards for being obedient from God. | TAP | Africa’s Newspaper of Record
James Kokulo Fasuekoi is Associate Editor for The AfricaPaper. A former Associated Press stringer stationed in West Africa covering wars in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone.