Hundreds gather for annual Albert Lea Memorial Day program

Published 10:56 am Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag paid respects to all military service members and those who lost their lives fighting for the country during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday at Graceland Cemetery.

Freitag, who started in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in 1985 and served in the military for 20 years before retiring in 2005 from the National Guard, served time overseas in Dexheim, Germany, and Bosnia.

Freitag said Memorial Day is first and foremost to honor service members for their sacrifices and for those who gave everything for their country.

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He said many did not volunteer to serve the country but did because they were called to do so.

He noted he was awed by all the military has accomplished over the years.

He talked about the origins of Memorial Day and how it started out being called Decoration Day. The first Memorial Day service was in 1966 in Waterloo, New York.

Freitag spent a minute honoring Corey Goodnature, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army, who died in 2005 after the helicopter he was riding in was shot down in Afghanistan.

He and 15 others in a MH-47 Chinook helicopter were responding to a call of a team of Navy SEALS that had come under intense fire in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. All of the others in the helicopter also died, along with all but one of the SEALS they had attempted to rescue.

In addition to Freitag’s remarks, the Albert Lea High School band played several selections, and The Careyaires also performed.

As in years past, there was a special Placing of the Wreaths ceremony and a volley fire.

Ceremonies were also held at other cemeteries around the area on Monday.