Memorial Day services pay tribute to vets

Services honoring men and women who served their country were held on Memorial Day at the Byron, Cowley and Lovell cemeteries.  Organizer Rich Fink was pleased with the good turnout and noted that many individuals attended all three ceremonies.

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Each event began with a ceremonial march in honor of the veterans who served their country and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice of dying for their country.

The color guard included local veterans Butch Fink, Allen Sessions, Alvin Emmett, Frank Wilkerson, Jim Thomas, Scott Fink and Leroy Collins. Meg Anderson acted as drummer, marching with the flag bearers.

Lovell Elementary School music teacher Chauna Bischoff and a group of her students performed patriotic music during the ceremony.

Veteran Terry Wilkerson placed a bouquet of flowers at each cemetery in remembrance of the veterans buried there. Chaplin Jerry Anderson led the organizers and those attending with a special prayer. Brendan Roman and Ralph Fink punctuated each event with a rendition of  “Taps.”

This year’s speaker was Command Sergeant Major Thomas F. Allan of the Wyoming Army National Guard. Allan began his military career in 1974 with the U.S. Navy as a hull maintenance technician and firefighter on the USS Independence. He joined the Wyoming Army National Guard in 1977 as a surveyor for the 3rd Battalion, 49th Field Artillery in Casper. In 1979, he rejoined the U.S. Navy to serve until 1981 on the USS Tripoli. He came back to the Wyoming Army National Guard in 1986 after taking a break from military service to work in the Wyoming oil fields.

He now serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the adjutant general of Wyoming, leading the Army Guard’s non-commissioned officers, supporting statewide commands in achieving the adjutant general’s goals and objectives. His duties also include active involvement in all care and training of the Guards’ enlisted force. He is a long-time member of the State Family Readiness Council. He and his wife live in Torrington and have two daughters.

Allan is a decorated veteran who has received the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with four OLC and the Army Achievement Medal with two OLC.

“For many Americans, Memorial Day is a welcome break from work, an extra day to spend at the beach, the mountains or simply to run errands,” said Allan.  “But today is an occasion to reflect, remember and honor all those who have served and sacrificed in defense of our great nation.”

He noted that Memorial Day grew from a Civil War tradition of women’s groups gathering each year to decorate the graves of those whose lives were lost during that bloody conflict. Yet even today some wonder why the holiday is still observed. He quoted Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who said the “remembrance was not only relevant, but a duty to our fallen.”

Allan reminded those attending of the many support groups and veterans associations and every day Americans who make sure tribute is paid to those who have served and sacrificed.

“We should never forget the family members of our servicemen and women,” he added. They, too, make significant sacrifices and contributions by taking on the challenges of day-to-day life that arise in households that are missing a very important member of the family.”

He said that Memorial Day shouldn’t be the only day we honor members of the armed forces. He said they should be honored every day.

“They should always be on our minds,” he said. “Their actions guarantee our freedom and give others a chance to enjoy freedom.”

After the event he said that he has always been astounded by the fact that only 1 percent of the population chooses to wear “the uniform.”

“That 1 percent are willing to give up everything, up to and including their life, for the continuation of this great experiment we call American Democracy.”

By Patti Carpenter


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