‘They paid their tomorrows for our todays’: Rain holds out for annual Memorial Day ceremony

Published 12:36 pm Monday, May 27, 2024

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Though Memorial Day is often known as the unofficial start to summer, it is actually much more than that, said Albert Lea American Legion Cmdr. Ole Olson on Monday during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Graceland Cemetery.

Memorial Day, Olson said, is a day of remembrance for those men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country — in many times fighting for those who could not fight for themselves.

“Each died for a cause that was greater than their own life,” he said. “That’s what this day is about. For those that paid the ultimate sacrifice — they paid their tomorrows for our todays.”

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He said poppies are given out to remind people what the day means.

On Memorial Day, people often get hung up with organizing picnics, who will do the cooking and what will take place afterward. But how many people really know the true meaning of Memorial Day.

The ceremony was the culmination of several events happening in the area that morning, including at various cemeteries and the Freeborn County Veterans Memorial, as well as the wreath drop over Fountain Lake with pilot Jim Hanson, who has taken part in the event for 52 years.

The Graceland Cemetery ceremony narrowly avoided the rain, which took place on and off throughout the day.

In addition to Olson’s speech, the ceremony included placing of the wreaths by representatives from Albert Lea veterans organizations, the Minnesota National Guard, Gold Star parents Don and Deb Goodnature and a POW-MIA representative, as well as musical selections, volley fire by the American Legion Post 56 Honor Guard and the playing of taps by bugler Ed Nelson.

Following the program, there was a free Memorial Day lunch for all veterans.