VANDALIA — Butler High School students and community members honored 16 fallen members of the Vandalia-Butler community during the 39th Annual Memorial Day Program on Friday.
The program honored 16 individuals dating back to the Civil War: Joseph Beal, Ambrose Beeson, Dean Black, John Buckmaster, Dennis Davidson, James Jordan, Jr., Robert Lumm, Elwood Rogers, David Sabec, Gary Schlecht, Kay Shearer, Hillory Shifflett, Larry Tootle, Dorothy VanZant, Thomas Westerman and George Youngerman, Jr.
The colors were presented by SFC Paul Browder (Class of 2000), Sgt. Ryen Carter (Fairmont Class of 2007), SSG Tony Elrich (Class of 2010), and PFC Matt Smith (Class of 2017).
The Butler Chamber Choir led the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and Eagle Scout Blaine Payton introduced guests and led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
“On every last Monday of May, America commemorates the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our great country,” said Butler student Kaitlyn Jackson. “These brave men and women knew that serving our country meant the possibility of losing everything, even their life, yet they chose to fight all the same. They left behind the safety of their own homes with an uncertainty as to whether they would return again. They gave everything so that we could have everything.”
Butler student Gabe Warren said that, using a definition from the Gospel of John, said that those fallen “embody the most apropros version of love possible.”
“Though some may call them fallen soldiers, I would rather call them risen,” said Warren. “For though their lives are lost, their impact will be always paramount. And though their actions finite, their legacies infinite. These men and women are the quintessential examples of selflessness.”
The ceremony concluded with a wreath being placed on at the base of the flag in Butler Memorial Stadium as the flag was lowered to half-staff. A color guard provided a 21-gun salute and Taps was then played before the audience was dismissed.
Jackson urged those in attendance to not take the sacrifices of the fallen for granted.
“Pretty soon we will all walk away from this place today, returning home to our families and friends and our lives,” said Jackson. “It is our duty as American citizens to not take these things for granted but to live our lives to the fullest and be the best we can be. We need to love a little harder, laugh a little louder, and chase our wildest dreams until they become our reality. This Memorial Day, and everyday, let us remember that these freedoms and rights we so often take for granted did not come without a price.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.