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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Tuesday July 16th 2024

On a Cool 145th Memorial Day Thoughts and Emotions Gathered and “Warmed” by Music, a Call to Youth, and Challenge for Peace “without a Shot-Fired

By Sue Hunter Weir

It was hard to tell whether summer has passed us by or is just late in coming. Memorial Day was a gray, somewhat chilly day this year. The crowd wasn”'t as big as it has been on sunnier, warmer days but that didn”'t dampen their enthusiasm. People have turned out at Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery for 145 years to honor those who have died during wars. Given that purpose, it is for the most part a solemn event–except for the music. There is nothing quite like a John Phillips Sousa march to get a crowd tapping their toes. The Seward Concert Band helps set the mood for the day with marches and patriotic songs. When the band plays a medley of service songs veterans of the Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force and Navy rise in turn, salute the flag and are applauded by an appreciative audience.

This year”'s observance was a blend of old and new. The words and the music were all familiar. There were several new faces leading different parts of the ceremony. Commander Dick Ward of American Legion Post One was the emcee. Pastor Dan Elifson, formerly of Salem Evangelical Free Church offered the invocation and the benediction. Mary and Kelby Grovender provided some much needed guidance to us in our singing.

The emphasis of this year”'s keynote speech by Brigadier General Dennis W. Schulstad (ret”'d) was on young people. He paid special tribute to the students from the Colin Powell Leadership Academy who participated in this year”'s ceremony: Cadet Toriano Jones who read General Logan”'s Orders, Cadet Harry Rainville who read the Gettysburg address and an Honor Guard provided by Chris Poposil, Devon Linnihan, Alex Benavidez, Tyler Morgan and Steve Storm.

It is the young people, he said, “bright, well-educated and trained to use the best equipment in the world” who guarantee the survival of American civilization because of their willingness to make sacrifices on our behalf. He paid tribute to his own father, who was not a professional soldier but a student at the University studying accounting, who left school to fly B52s over Germany during World War II.

Out of all the wars in which the United States has been involved, he believes that the “best” was the Cold War because, despite a supply of nuclear weapons that could “blow up half the world,” the war ended without a shot being fired””there was no loss of life.

It”'s okay, Schulstad said, for some people to spend Memorial Day at ball parks and big Memorial Days sales because “men and women who served gave their lives for our freedom: Freedom to work, freedom to live, and freedom to worship”“or not worship” as they choose. Once a year, for a brief time, we stop to remember that.


There are approximately 200 veterans buried in the Cemetery.

War of 1812~Four

Civil and Indian Wars~164

Spanish American War~16

World War I~1

145th Memorial Day Celebration Service at Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery

Prelude Music by Seward Concert Band

John Stewart, Conductor

Post the Flags by JROTC Color Guard

Star Spangled Banner Sung by Audience

Pledge of Allegiance by Audience

Opening Remarks by Richard Ward Veteran MC

Invocation by Reverend Dan Elifson, Salem Church

General Logan”'s Orders by Cadet Toriano Jones, MTS

Memorial Day Address by Brigadier General

Dennis Shulstad, U.S. Air Force (ret)

God Bless America sung by Audience

Gettysburg Address by Cadet Harry Rainville

Music Selection by Seward Concert Band

America the Beautiful sung by Audience

Benediction by Reverend Dan Elifson

Everyone processes to the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Plot for the placing of Wreaths and to Render Honors

Taps by Seward Concert Band

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