Constant rain cancelled Memorial Day parades around Scott County, but soaked residents gathered at cemeteries and ceremonies despite the weather to pay respects to those who died while in the military.
Volunteers said prayers and poems, placed American wreaths and American flags at veterans’ graves and spoke their names — hundreds of them at the Twin Oaks Middle School event in Prior Lake, so many that some children in the crowd became restless. The adults, many of them veterans, were still.
“The volunteering and the compassion never dies,” Dorothy Robe, a 95-year-old World War II Navy veteran, said after a short ceremony at Savage’s Glendale Cemetery as flags fluttered by 18 headstones. “We’d hope it never begins, but it never ends.”
Memorial Day as a regular national event began after the Civil War ended American slavery and caused the deaths of more than 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, though the precise details of the holiday’s start are debated, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
More wars, accidents and time have continued claiming veterans since, including more than 6,000 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars’ death tolls continue to rise almost two decades on despite widespread public belief that the conflicts have mostly failed to achieve American goals, the Pew Research Center found.
Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, at Twin Oaks said Memorial Day’s respect and remembrance must go beyond words and last longer than one day.
“We should ask ourselves, what more can we do to honor their legacy?” he said. “We must keep all of our promises to the men and women who have served.”