The Missouri National Veterans Memorial was filled to the brim for its latest ceremony. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate and honor the military and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 31.
MNVM executive director Nancy Guth welcomed the many visitors and eventually gave way to the guest speaker Milton Wick, who is the Perry County Middle School Principal and served in the United States Marine Corp for 21 years.
Wick commanded a battalion in Iraq in 2004 and was either on the operations or command side. In addition to infantry experience, he contributed on reconnaissance and anti-terrorism roles, and spent a year as an advisor in Saudi Arabia.
He was a part of the 23rd and 24th Marines reserves, serving as a commanding officer or reserve officer, assisting with the war planning for the Marine Corps.
He noted that Memorial Day is not about hot dogs and barbeques, but to remember those who served the country in conflicts.
“It’s not a happy day, but one where we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and appreciate our freedoms a little more,” Wick said.
Wick pointed out the many Gold Star families who lost a family member in combat and the significance that Memorial Day may have to them.
“There are many friends names on this wall behind me,” Wick said. “Many husbands, wives, fathers and sons and each of them deserve to be recognized on this day. There are probably many of you out there that know right where the names are on the wall of people that you know. They should not be forgotten.”
Wick pointed out the many trials that the soldiers face in today’s world and he, along with many of the people that he knows look on today as a sad time.
“We don’t get to choose the wars or the battles,” Wick said. “We just go and do what we are trained to do when our country requires it of us. Dating as far back as 1775 when three of our four branches were founded, Americans have been laying down their lives and the families have had to deal with that too. Even my own family has not gone unscathed.”
The ceremony continued as wreaths were laid at the foot of the wall, and Logan Johnson played “Taps” to recognize the fallen soldiers.
“I thank you all, veteran and everyone here to take time out of your day and schedule to recognize those who have given everything for this county,” Wick said.