MARYSVILLE – Marysville remembered fallen service members Monday with a ceremony on the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day.
The event to commemorate the noble sacrifice of soldiers was hosted by American Legion Post 178 at a Marysville Cemetery adorned with rows of American flags waving in a slight breeze.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by the Marysville Navy Junior ROTC and an opening prayer to welcome the more than 100 in attendance.
“We know, God, their sacrifices are the only reason we can gather like this and ask for your blessings,” Post Chaplain Ken Cage said.
Post Cmdr. Daniel Grumbach introduced a special guest to the ceremony, Leonard Martin, 94, of Snohomish, a World War II Prisoner of War who was greeted with applause.
The 1943 Snohomish High School graduate was an assistant gunner with the 104th Infantry Division – the Timberwolves – who landed on the shores of Normandy at Utah Beach on D-Day. He became a POW when he was captured near Breda in the Netherlands, then shipped by rail car to a camp in Germany.
Grumbach shared the history of Memorial Day – at the time known as Decoration Day – from its beginnings as a day to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War, and decorating their graves to pay respects.
Mayor Jon Nehring spoke against the backdrop of flags, decorations and flowers placed on gravestones by family members and friends that illustrated colorfully the community’s appreciation for the military.
“The flags and decorations bring a sense of patriotism to our own community that I know we all value so very much,” Nehring said. “We honor the memory and sacrifice of the many heroes who have died in active military service defending our great country.”
Nehring said the common thread of Armed Forces members’ self-sacrifice is, in a word, freedom. Americans enjoy an unprecedented level of freedom that owes to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought and died to provide and preserve it. He added that soldiers who died in active duty have often done so to bring freedom for others in distant lands and cultures.
Nehring closed by reading a letter from President Abraham Lincoln addressed to a Civil War-era mother of five sons who all died on the field of battle.
Lincoln wrote that the Lord would assuage the anguish of her bereavement, “and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.”
American Legion auxiliary members presented individualized red, white and blue flowers to symbolize blood shed in battle, purity on sacred soil, and the memory of those who perished beneath the sea, respectively.
The ceremony closed with an honor guard rifle salute, “Taps” performed by Morgan Reed and a musical number by Micah Adriano, “Proud to be an American.” She also sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” early on in the program.
“Thank you to all who have given their life for our country and all of us, and thank you to those who have been left behind to carry on without them,” Nehring said. “We are indebted to your sacrifice forever.”