|America’s armed forces honored at Monday Memorial Day service|
|Written by Kyle Arnoldy|
Dozens of people were present at Holyoke Memorial Park Monday, May 26, to pay respect to past and present veterans as part of the special Memorial Day service.
Those in attendance were treated to warm, sunny weather Monday morning. Terry Barth, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Colorado Legion 6482 and commander of Colorado American Legion Post 90, introduced the guest speaker, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Russell.
Russell was raised in Holyoke, graduating from HHS in 1964. After attaining a degree from Colorado State University, Russell began his 20-year stint in the service in 1968. He served in the U.S. and overseas, working in aircraft maintenance, public affairs, intelligence, teaching students flight training and flying fighters.
After retiring in 1988 with about 3,000 hours of military and civilian flight time, Russell spent 20 years with Lockheed Martin Aerospace designing fighter cockpits. Now retired, Russell lives with his wife Judy in Hot Springs Village, Ark.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Russell takes the stage Monday,
“Today we honor those men and women who have given the fullest measure to serve in austere conditions, separate for periods of time from their families, risk life and limb and then hope that America thanks them for their efforts,” Russell said. “Those who died made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for the freedom of others.”
Russell noted that roughly 1.3 millions American lives have been lost in 29 large and small conflicts. While he wishes this would stop, he stated it is likely that it never will. One thing Russell pointed out was the waning support for military personnel. He quoted General David Petraeus, stating that there is a dangerous disconnect when Americans are unaware of the burdens the military is bearing.
In WWII, 11.2 percent of the nation served in four years. During Vietnam, 4.3 percent served in 12 years. Since 2001, only .45 percent of the population has served in the Global War on Terror.
While the percentage of enlisted personnel in the armed forces is shrinking, Russell explained that they are expected to do more and more.
“My fervent hope and request from those of you who are here today is that we don’t just celebrate the dedication and sacrifice of those who have died defending America on Memorial Day,” Russell said as he wrapped up his speech. “Thousands of those who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where America’s brave have fought, are back home.
“I encourage all of you to welcome them and thank them for their service. Don’t confuse politics of our country with the dedication of young men and women who are deployed in often horrible conditions and, if not killed, suffer horrible injuries and consequences for their efforts.”
Terry Barth welcomes the audience to the Memorial Day service
The Memorial Honor Roll was read by Barth, Dick Jones and Gene Kleve, naming veterans who have died in the past 10 years. Taps was performed by Jack Wieland on trumpet.
Jones gave the opening and closing Memorial Day prayers. Guest singers for the event included Kaylee Groshans and Marcia Dalton, performing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “For the Good of the Many.”
Jack Wieland performs alongside the color guard Monday morning to close out the Memorial Day service. —Enterprise photo
Holyoke Enterprise May 29, 2014