Carroll native who served 20 years in Navy addresses veterans' program
May 28, 2013
Arcadia American Legion member Mike Vonnahme plays taps, a military bugle call, during the conclusion Monday’s Memorial Day service at the Arcadia Public Cemetery as an American flag flutters in a light breeze. Area residents honored loved ones with ceremonies and parades throughout the county.
Carroll American Legion Commander Lloyd Drees didn't have to look beyond his own family to find a featured speaker for the Memorial Day program Monday at Carroll Cemetery. His son Dan nicely fit the bill.
Dan was born in Carroll in 1960 and raised on a farm north of Fontanelle, in southwest Iowa. He joined the Navy during his senior year at Bridgewater-Fontanelle High School, where he graduated in 1979. After 20 years of service, he retired as a senior chief petty officer. He's been service manager at Copy Systems Inc. for 13 years. He and his wife, Linda, have been married 29 years and have a daughter who teaches at Saydel High School.
Addressing the large crowd that lined the cemetery's ring of war monuments following Monday morning's parade, Drees talked about the history of Memorial Day and the appreciation of sacrifice by those who have lost their lives in the service.
He said, "We must make sure that our nation never forgets the magnitude of the deeds and sacrifices of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Marines and National Guardsmen who have, as Abraham Lincoln said so well, 'given the last full measure of devotion.'
"But the real meaning of Memorial Day lies in reflecting on the sacrifices made by generations of Americans, from Antietam to Afghanistan. Remembering all those laid to rest in Arlington and in thousands of cemeteries across America, and to those still missing in action and unaccounted for around the world."
Drees cited a quote from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz: "They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. ... To them we have a solemn obligation - the obligation to ensure that their sacrifices will help make this a better and safer world in which to live."
Nimitz served in the Navy through the first half of the 20th century and at the end of World War II was the U.S. signatory to Japan's surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Drees drew upon his own experience, serving on the USS John King, which was part of the 18-ship Coral Sea Carrier Battle Group with the USS Iowa.
Drees recalled the events that unfolded on April 19, 1989, when a turret-gun accident on the USS Iowa claimed the lives of 47 sailors.
"You see we weren't at war, it was a time of peace," Drees said, "and we were performing our duty and protecting our country. Yet, 47 sailors lost their lives, Men and women of our military are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, transparent to our normal daily life. Some will die during peace to protect our freedoms. I know I'll never forget those 47 sailors.
"I don't think most Americans understand the price of freedom and what it takes to be free. No one should take their freedom for granted."
Drees sees Memorial Day should be used to share a lesson with future generations.
"Memorial Day is an opportunity to teach our children that America is a great nation today because so many sacrificed so much yesterday," he said. "That our freedoms were forged from the blood, sweat, tears and passion of our military personnel. We must always remember that freedom comes at a cost, and for many that cost was their lives.
Following Drees' talk, students from Carroll Community and Kuemper Catholic high schools recited the names of more than 500 deceased veterans whose flags were flown in the cemetery during the weekend.
"These flags were draped over the caskets at the veterans' funerals, and the families have given the flags to the Legion requesting their loved ones be remembered each Memorial Day," said Legion commander Lloyd Drees, who served in the Army Reserves from 1956 to '62 and farmed in the Fontanelle and Greenfield area for 35 years before moving back to Carroll in 2002.
Monday's ceremony was hosted by the Carroll American Legion and VFW posts.
Pastor Bill Weiss of Lidderdale Lutheran Church presented the invocation and closing prayer.
At the start of the program, Boy Scouts raised the American flag with the Carroll and Kuemper bands performing the national anthem.
Halle Simons, daughter of Tyler and Sarah Simons, read her first-place entry in the Carroll American Legion flag-essay contest that was open last year to Kuemper fifth-graders and received 78 entries.
Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers presented the welcoming address and said, "Today we remember the dedication and sacrifice laid down by a few to preserve a way of life for many. That way of life is the American way of life, defined by our Constitution and should not be taken for granted."
He added, "The military men and women who have died and those who stand in this cemetery today understand freedom and its high price. Their family members understand patience, prayer, hope and pain in ways many of us never will. To all of you, I say thank you.
"Each of us has an opportunity to serve and love one another every day. Life, much like freedom, is a gift. Service to others and volunteerism are what make this community the beautiful and welcoming place it is today. Service to others and volunteerism are what our veterans and those serving now have given to make the United States the greatest nation in the world."
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