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Memorial Day ceremony remembers fallen heroes

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance—a special day set aside to observe the sacrifices and service of all the military personnel who have gone on before us.  


The Branson Veterans of America Chapter 913 welcomed veterans, families of veterans and members of the community to a touching ceremony in honor of those men and women who gave the greatest sacrifice to our country.


A large group gathered at the Ozarks Memorial Park Cemetery as BVA 913's Mike Kremper welcomed those in attendance and introduced distinguished guests State Representative Brian Seitz and his wife Valerie, Branson Mayor Larry Milton and wife Lianne, and Navy Rear Admiral (Retired) Hank Molinengo and his wife Fran.


Pastor Dave Hamner offered an invocation and the Branson High School Air Force Jr. ROTC posted the colors. Kremper led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and vocalist C.J. Newsom, who headlines her own show at the Americana Theater, performed the National Anthem.


A powerful part of the morning was the Placement of the Wreaths Ceremony. During the event, wreaths were placed to honor those who sacrificed their lives in America's wars. Members of the Branson High School Air Force Jr. ROTC assisted veterans as they placed wreaths in remembrance of those who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the War on Terrorism and all other wars.  


Hank Molinengo, Navy Rear Admiral (Retired) served as keynote speaker for the Monday morning event.  


Said Molinengo, "There is a tradition that on Memorial Day our flag is lowered to half staff, where it remains only until noon, then it is raised to full staff. The half staff is in memory of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service for our country. At noon, the flag is raised to full staff by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifices be in vain, and to continue to fight for and protect our liberties."


Molinengo continued, "We honor the legacies of the men and women we have lost by being active in our community. We have to care. As President John F. Kennedy said, 'As we express our gratitude to them, the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.' We as a nation must continue to support our military, as they continue to fight for our freedoms."


Following Molinengo's thought-provoking words, Alex Penrod offered a reading about the meaning of the 13 folds of the American flag, as was demonstrated by Ken Ranger and Frank Biri.


C.J. Newsom shared a song of dedication, "It is Well with My Soul," which was followed by a traditional rifle volley conducted by the BVA 913 Honor Guard.  


Sergeant Major Bob Smithers, Army Retired, played Taps, and the Branson High School Air Force Jr. ROTC retired the colors.


Pastor Dave Hamner shared some words of inspiration and a powerful scripture, "Blessed is the Nation Whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12) before offering the benediction.


The Branson Veterans of America Chapter 913 would like to offer sincere thanks to Darrel and Susan Bearden and Ozarks Memorial Park Cemetery for their continuing support of the efforts of the organization to ensure the sacrifice of our fallen men and women will never be forgotten.

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