Ellensburg Memorial Day: A day to remember the fallen
Residents came together on Monday to remember and reflect on the community’s fallen heroes at Veterans Memorial Park.
More than 100 people showed up to Ellensburg’s Memorial Day ceremony, which included the singing of the national anthem, the raising of the flag and speeches by two military members, one active and one retired. Retired Lt. Col. Larry Lambert said Memorial Day marks a time to remember those who served and gave their lives for our rights and freedom.
“Those men and women are worthy of far greater recognition than mere words or markers,” Lambert said. “The sacrifices they made and the deeds they performed will be written in history and shall remain alive in our hearts and memory for years to come.”
Memorial Day was created in 1868 as Declaration Day to remember the soldiers who died during the Civil War, he said. It was on May 30 and was chosen so that flowers would be in bloom.
After World War I, Declaration Day was expanded as a remembrance to all fallen soldiers in all of America’s wars, Lambert said. In 1971 it became Memorial Day, was declared a national holiday and moved to the last Monday of May.
The U.S. flag is raised in the morning on Memorial Day and then lowered to half mast to remember those who gave their lives in service.
“At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifices be in vain,” Lambert said. “But to raise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”
Continuing the tradition
Capt. Dustin Johnston with Central Washington University’s ROTC program discussed the close bond between fellow service members who become family during their time spent together and how difficult it can be to lose those family members.
“The loss of those people you call your family is difficult regardless of the nobility of the cause,” he said. “But their memories should not be one of sorrow.”
Johnston called upon family and community members to remember the positive aspects of those individual lives and use those anecdotes to honor them.
“These are the memories we hold onto when our loved ones are gone,” he said. “It is our duty as survivors and grateful citizens to remember our oath to them, to be grateful.”
Service members are driven to serve by their desire to protect individual personal freedoms so everyone can decide the course of their life and seek out the destiny they desire, free from persecution based on religion or opinion, Johnston said.
Johnston spent last weekend outdoors in Washington. The natural beauty of the state made him think of those who fought to preserve it and who are no longer with us to enjoy it.
“I was able to sit on a clear still lake overlooking snowcapped peaks and enjoy the morning,” he said. “Today is the day to reflect on that beauty and enjoy the time with family and those that you care for. Today we give thanks to the blessings we have and the freedoms as Americans.”
The ceremony was organized by the American Legion Post 8 and the Kittitas County Veterans Association.