• 16°

Residents remember those who died to protect freedoms

District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett reminded area residents Monday that “freedom is never free,” during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Graceland Cemetery.

The cemetery was filled with families, area veterans organizations, law enforcement and military members, elected officials and community members looking to pay their respects to deceased military veterans this Memorial Day.

“(Memorial Day) is a day that we set aside to honor and remember those men and women who have died to secure what is precious for us all — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Bennett said.

Bennett relayed her experiences earlier this week when she attended the burial of Glaydon Iverson, who reached his final resting place next to his parents in his hometown of Emmons — 75 years after his death on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.

Bennett spoke of the sacrifice of war and the impact it has on the country, but specifically the impact war has on family. She thanked local heroes Iverson and Corey Goodnature for the ultimate sacrifice they made for their country.

Bennett asked those in the crowd under the age of 16 to stand in recognition.

“I think it is so important that we teach our young people what today means,” she said, thanking the relatives who brought young children to the cemetery.

Bennett was an elementary teacher in Albert Lea for 33 years.

“Freedom is not free,” Bennett said. “Our liberty in America has been bought with the blood and sacrifice of those who served in our armed forces — they fought in service to this great nation.”

Bennett also thanked veterans in attendance who served the country and made it back home alive.

The Careyaires men’s vocal group provided patriotic music for the program, including “The Star Spangled Banner,” a military medley honoring each branch of the military and “God Bless America.”

Members of the crowd joined hands and raised them together while singing.

American Legion Post 56 bugler Ed Nelson added to the day’s festivities by playing “To The Colors” during the flag raising ceremony and taps after a volley fire by the American Legion Honor Guard.

Various military representatives and veterans organizations placed wreaths in honor of deceased military veterans at the ceremony.

A flag-raising ceremony and memorial service for those buried at sea was also held at Fountain Lake Park in Albert Lea earlier in the day. A wreath was cast into the water from the shore while another wreath was dropped into the lake from an aircraft. A volley fire by the American Legion color guard was made and taps were played.

Surrounding communities also observed Memorial Day with special programs at area cemeteries and memorials.

About Evelyn Seffinga

Evelyn Seffinga covers education and arts and culture for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Evelyn