“All told, we remember today the sacrifice of nearly 1.5 million Americans paying the final price for the liberty we enjoy today.”
By Jacob Mathias
Despite the rain, about 200 Stevens Point residents showed at Pfiffner Park for Monday’s Memorial Day services in honor of those soldiers who gave their lives while serving our country.
The Stevens Point City Band, under Director Kathy Kowelski, kicked off the service with a selection of patriotic songs including “America the Beautiful” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Colors and arms were presented by the American Veterans Post 1051, Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 185, Vietnam Veterans of America Post 115 and Marine Corps League of Central Wisconsin. Taps was performed by Bugler Jerry Kowalski.
Poppy Princess Alexandra Raczek recited “In Flanders Field,” a 1915 poem by Lieutenant Colonel John Mcrae in remembrance of his fallen comrades.
“There is a cost for this freedom. In every military action it is human cost,” said Duane Miskulin of AMVETS, in his Memorial Day address. “This is exactly what memorial day is about, remembering the human costs of our conflicts and remembering the war dead.”
An award recognizing area mothers whose children have fallen in military action was presented by Greg Henning, recording secretary for the Stevens Point Council of the Knights of Columbus. The award was presented to Joan Uhl of Amherst whose son Eugene Uhl, III died in Mosul, Iraq on Nov. 15, 2003.
“Eugene wanted to protect his family, community and America. I think you all agree with me. He did.” said Henning. “Eugene Uhl III served and made the sacrifice for us.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gary Thompson, a 27-year US Army veteran and UW-Stevens Point professor of military science, spoke on the total losses of US soldiers in foreign and civil wars.
“Since those first shots in Boston, the experiment in self-government that we call America has been tested by fire, by enemies at home and abroad,” said Thompson. “Many who served did not return and that is who we are here to remember and honor today…all told, we remember today the sacrifice of nearly 1.5 million Americans paying the final price for the liberty we enjoy today.”
A wreath in remembrance of those servicemen who died at sea was placed in the Wisconsin River by Michael “Gunner Pohl” of AmVet 1051. Inclement weather prevented John Thompson, a Vietnam veteran pilot, from being able to drop the wreath from his plane as scheduled.
Memorial Day Services concluded with the dedication of a new flagpole at the Sherman Heink Disabled American Veterans Memorial. The new flagpole replaces the original, which had been standing for 56 years. The flag is set in a concrete pentagon to symbolize all five branches of the military.
A similar ceremony was held by the VFW in Plover, which hosted a traveling memorial at several veterans’ sites across the area. The last spot was at Veterans Memorial Park, where members of the VFW read the names of local fallen soldiers and presented the colors.