Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Memorial Day A Veteran's Story

In Honor of Memorial Day

 

Brian Higgins

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

To many who have served or had family members serve, it is a day in which we pay respects for those who have served this country and gave the ultimate sacrifice - their lives.

In events leading up to this day, there are activities done throughout the United States in preparation for this solemn day. There are many towns that have a special "clean-up day" at their local cemeteries, placing of the flags on Veterans' graves and preparing for the Memorial Day Ceremony.

All across the nation, American Legion Posts are preparing for just this day. Honor Guards are working on their timing with following the commands of the Honor Guard commander.

George W. Vroman American Legion Post 2, Casper gathered their Legion family together to prepare Highland Cemetery for the events of Memorial Day.

On Saturday 22nd members of The American Legion Post 2 Family came together to revitalize some of the areas around the veteran section of the Highland Cemetery in Casper Wyoming.  Sanding and painting the medal crosses, before setting them into a cement base next to the headstones of veterans at the cemetery, and leveling 7 headstones.

"The city was looking for some assistance due to damage caused by the medal crosses to their grass cutting equipment."  said Past Post 2 Commander Larry Winzenried.  The post jumped at the chance to assist with manpower and a way to help the city with adding a cement base to the crosses.

"It's important the sacrifices that our veterans made are not forgotten.  That future generations have a nice place to go, to pay their respect at the veterans final resting place."  Said Chaplain Higgins, who is working toward the Master of Divinity at Crown College.

"Post 2 would like to thank Bloedorn Lumber and Home depot for the Concrete, Pepper Tank for the rebar, and 307 Tree Service for use of the cement mixer."  Said Post 2 Adjutant Dean Welch. Helping to make this a successful event at the Highland Cemetery.  As we honor our veterans with the upkeep of their final resting place.

Thanks, to the Post 2 American Legion Family members that came out to support this important task; Ray Wulf Project Chairman, Post 2 Commander Larry Seems, Post Adjutant Dean Welch, Squadron 2 Commander Mike Frazier, Squadron 2 Adjutant John Petley, Department Assistant Chaplain Brian Higgins, Don Wisland, Darrel Bogart, Tammy Heck, Fred Duran, Jeannie Hensley, Doug Foster, Tracy Foster, Scott Milberger, Matt Frazier, Kaitlyn Frazier, and Don Wisland for coordinating the supplies needed.

The many thanks is due to the great community involvement that happens across Wyoming and the United States. (Told by Brian Higgins, Dept. of Wyoming American Legion - Assistant Chaplin, photographer also for George W. Vroman American Legion Post 2, Casper).

The clean up and placing of flags on all the Veterans graves takes place up to a week prior to Memorial Day. In Pine Bluffs, the cemetery had been cleaned and mowed by the town maintenance crew. Once that had been done, members of the Donald Eisenhauer American Legion Post 60 went out and placed American flags on the veterans buried in the Pine Bluffs Cemetery.

Family members of Veterans gathered in the cemetery, and placed fresh flowers on their loved ones graves, preparing also for Memorial Day.

Memorial Day morning arrived, a slight chill in the air, but warmed up as everyone gathered at 10:00 a.m. The members of the Legion arrived and prepared for the day's ceremony. The Flag line consists of flags representing the Army, Navy, Marines and the Air Force. They are in order behind the United States of America flag. Standing back by the bugler is the POW/MIA flag.

The American Flag on the main flagpole is at half mast. The ceremony starts with the Pledge of the Allegiance and a prayer is said by the Post 60 Chaplain. Melinda Gibson sang America the Beautiful and the ceremony went on.

Post 60 Chaplain Louis Laboray placed the wreath at the foot of the battle cross and memorial plaque.

Members of the firing squad stood at attention and listened for the orders from the commander to commence firing. Seven members shoot three rounds equally a 21 gun salute. For those who have lost a loved one in war, it is a hard moment, and tears fall gently down their face.

At this time, a member standing back with the POW/MIA performs 'taps' for all the fallen soldiers. Commander John Wise then recites "A Soldier died today" and closing prayer. It is a most solemn ceremony for all who attend.

After the ceremony, families of the fallen are invited for coffee and cookies at the Donald Eisenhauer American Legion Post 60 home.

Next... On this Memorial Day, I take time to reflect on my beloved father, Corporal Walter Farrell of the United States Army; a decorated Korean War veteran. My father passed away last year after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. I am happy to report he had a peaceful death with care from hospice.

Like many others of his generation, my father did not speak of his experiences during his enlisted service. I would like to share an excerpt from my book titled, "Remembering Wyoming"; a memoir about the conversations I had with my father during his decline through the dementia process. He loved Wyoming (as do I) and spent many hours remembering his visits to our great state prior to his journey Home. I think he secretly wanted to be a real cowboy. He took me and my siblings here every year and we all have found memories of these times when my father was able to relax and enjoy our family vacations.

My book is dedicated to Walter Farrell who loved Yellowstone and Wyoming. He would say, "everyone wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Wyoming is like heaven, so visiting is possible without the unfortunate side effect.

I hired a caregiver for him and she sent me this note which is part of the memoirs. This is the only story I was ever privy to regarding his service.

Good Evening Nurse Jen,

Today all I have to report is that when I arrived your Dad described himself as being tired, so we just did activities that were more relaxed and didn't demand anything physical. Although, I'm happy to report that eventually, I was able to get him outside and in his wheelchair to go for a walk. As well as we did some range of motion exercises.

Also, I wanted to mention that while doing the family memories book, there is a section about military service. Your Dad actually shared some stories with me which was very interesting. He told me about how during his time of the service that there wasn't as much action going on because they were in talks of signing a peace treaty. Yet, he did go into battle and he held the rank as a corporal where he said that during one of the battles they were being raided in the trenches. He said that one of shell blasts had killed 4 men that were in the entryway. He described that there were bodies....everywhere. He said that he saw a Korean man who was shot right between the brows. He said that nobody knew who did it. As for himself, he said that he was just throwing grenades, he said he had thrown about fifty of them. He told me about how the enemy/fire fight raid was over in two minutes. He told me about how people could collect "souvenirs'' but he never did. He said that when doing so, a person could get shot by a sniper or would run the risk of stepping on a trap. Lastly, he told me he earned the bronze star. I looked up the meaning behind the star which means that it is " awarded to members of the us armed forces for either heroic achievement, service, meritorious achievement or meritorious service in a combat zone."

Courtesy of Jennifer Burns

Your Mom said that your Dad doesn't talk about when he was in war so I'm not sure if he shared the story above with you. I thought it was pretty interesting and felt honored that he shared it with me. I can't imagine what war was/is like for anyone. Anyways, that's all that I got. Have a great weekend! Sincerely, Jess CNA

Thank you to all our veterans and we remember those who have died while serving on this Memorial Day. Told by Jennifer Burns, daughter of a Veteran.

Last week there was a listing of Veterans in the Pine Bluffs Cemetery. The following names were not on the list: Cox, Floyd Dean U. S. Army Vietnam; Elwood, Robert "Bob" U.S. Army Air Corp WWII; Nussbaum, Charles "Chuck" U.S. Army WWII; Ray, Todd Curtis U. S. Army Unknown(branch of service).

Photo contributions by Karen Lipska, Penny Merryfield - Pine Bluffs Post, Brian Higgins. Story by Brian Higgins and Penny Merryfield.

 

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