Great Bend residents and guests paid respect to veterans Monday during the annual Memorial Day service at the Veterans Circle in the Great Bend Cemetery.
“We are here today to honor our fallen soldiers and to thank them for their service,” said Bo Levingston, commander of the Great Bend American Legion Post 180.
During the presentation of memorials, representatives from different organizations laid wreaths in honor of the fallen men and women. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the program adjourned to an area next to the Arkansas River bridge to honor those who died at sea.
Chris Krueger of the Sons of the American Legion gave the keynote address. He is the son of the late Jerry A. Krueger, a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Korean War in the USS Heerman DD532.
Krueger noted some of the history of the American Legion, founded in 1919 by World War I veterans.
The Legion was founded on four pillars: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth.
Quoting from The American Legion website, he focused on the fourth pillar:
The roots of the fourth pillar - Children & Youth - reach back to the combat-weary doughboys who founded The American Legion. They survived trench warfare, machine-gun firefights, mid-air dogfights and mustard gas. When they called their first caucus at Paris in 1919, they focused not on themselves but on the children and youth of America. They knew that children were made orphans by the war, and that many had little chance to succeed without help. The slogan they coined resonates today: “A Square Deal for Every Child.” Millions of dollars have since been raised and innumerable hours have been volunteered by Legionnaires, in order to help children who are sick or in need, or simply looking for opportunities to achieve their goals. The American Legion has advocated on their behalf, fighting against such social ills as child pornography, teen suicide, drug abuse and violence at home.
As a member of the SAL and American Legion Riders, Krueger said he’s had the distinct honor of meeting many men and women who have served the nation. “They all share a deep passion for honoring the memory of their fallen comrades,” he said.
“Today is the day that we honor our fallen heroes that gave all,” he said, encouraging those in attendance to “honor their service and sacrifice today, tomorrow and every day” through their own acts. He encouraged them to enrich this great county with service to others.