SOUTHERN UTAH – While many view Memorial Day as an opportunity for vacationing or visiting family and friends, others will spend it honoring the men and women of our armed forces, whether they are on active duty or long since passed.
A memorial service will be held at the Veterans’ Memorial Park in Cedar City the afternoon of May 28. The Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion and numerous other military-related groups will attend. The event is open to the public.
Throughout the day, the St. George Veterans’ Center, a branch of the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs, will host visits to the resting places of military service members, including Tonaquint Cemetery. This is an annual tradition attended by many veterans nationwide.
Nearly every Memorial Day event, whether in Utah or elsewhere, has one thing in common: A need for public participation. The staffs of organizations such as the MCL are seeking to increase awareness of the true meaning of the holiday and the appreciation that is due for those who serve so admirably.
“Memorial Day (is meant to be) a reminder of how terrible war is and how much veterans have sacrificed,” said Patrick Curtis, a retired Marine Corps Colonel with 25 years of service under his belt. “We need to continually honor veterans of the past, present and future so that one day; we may hopefully never fight in another war. If we accomplish that, every one of those sacrifices will be vindicated.”
“Memorial Day gives people a chance to think about and remember how they have been impacted by those who serve in the military,” veteran David Riggs said.
An Army security specialist, Riggs spent a year in Vietnam intercepting enemy radio transmissions. His time in the military helped him gain a sense of responsibility, self-worth and confidence. Those have assisted him in all aspects of life.
“When I left the military in 1969, service was not held in high regard, nor were those who served,” he said. “Times have changed and I am grateful to be part of new, more positive national image of the military.”
Riggs is also captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Utah. Just one of many branches of the nationwide PGR, the group consists mainly of motorcycle riders with an interest in honoring members of the armed forces. They regularly attend the funerals of fallen soldiers and participate in other military-related events, with the goal of involving the public in what they do.
A large number of the PGR are veterans, including Dale Moore. He described the four years he spent in the Air Force as the best of his life and his inspiration for joining the PGR to help honor fellow servicemen.
“(Remembrance) is important to (me), to show respect for those who paid the ultimate price for my freedom,” he said. “(They protected) the freedoms and values that have always been and always been vital to our country.”
Air Force Reserve veteran Faye Laub said: “We need to be reminded of what veterans have done for us. All of them, even those who did not serve during wartime, should be (honored) for taking that time out of their lives. They all deserve our appreciation.”
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.