Memorial Day in a Siouxland community, Le Mars

26 May

Over the years I have attended a number of Memorial Day events covering them for newspapers. Each one has its own “flavor” and some seem more successful than others. I remember a Memorial Day parade in Louisiana and it consisted of two floats. It was sad, and no one turned out to watch which was even sadder. But I photographed it in such a way that you couldn’t really tell. And later a police officer I was acquainted with told me later it was a kind thing I had done.

Memorial Day is a remembrance day for those who serve and have served their country. No matter the politics surrounding certain events or the various parties spouting their factious rhetoric, that day is to honor those who step up, either enlisting, or being drafted as was done during the Vietnam conflict. This weekend I attended the Le Mars, Iowa, Avenue of Flags Memorial Day. It is an event that is truly on the next level. At the Plymouth County Courthouse flags of those who have passed are planted in the soil. The flags are donated by family members of the service members and the names of those from the community who have a flag representing their service covers all conflicts, domestic and foreign, beginning with the Civil War and continuing through the current War of Terror, are read out loud. This year 1,229 names were read. And another 37 names were added to the list with flags being donated this year.

It is with a sense of community pride that Le Mars honors its war dead and the sacrifice they gave to their fellow citizens. Produced by the American Legion Post 241, one of its members told me that all the flags are erected within one and one half hours because so many community members volunteer to help get them up.

It was a nice way to begin the day and honor those who serve.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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