ALL ABOUT THE SACRIFICE
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The numbers are sobering.
In World War I — the war that many thought would end all wars because of its horror — more than 20 million soldiers were killed, 116,000 of those Americans. That’s particularly staggering considering the U.S. involvement spanned just 17 months of what was a five-year war.
Twenty years later, in World War II, 52 million were killed. Of those, more than 400,000 of them came from U.S. soil.
During the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, another 36,940 U.S. soldiers lost their lives, and 15 years later, during the United States’ peak involvement in the Vietnam War, 58,219 more soldiers had lost their lives.
And more recently, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, just under 4,500 service members died in Iraq and another 2,300 lives were lost in Afghanistan.
Those numbers were shared by Retired Major General Tim Reisch at Freeman’s Memorial Day observance Monday evening, May 31 on a beautiful evening at the Freeman Area Veteran’s Memorial as he reminded those attending what Memorial Day is really all about.
“It’s not about a three-day weekend,” said Reisch, who in 2011 was appointed as South Dakota’s 21st adjutant general by Governor Dennis Daugaard and then was reappointed by Gov. Kristi Noem in 2019. “It’s not to celebrate the first unofficial weekend of summer or going camping or fishing or shopping. It’s a sacred holiday, dedicated to honoring the thousands of men and women who left their families, left their homes and left their communities to fight the wars of this nation but did not come back alive.”
Reisch noted the things that people take for granted every day — the right to speak their opinion, to worship as they please, to live in safe surroundings and to take part in the election of government officials.
“To me, the most compelling reason we are able to (enjoy these freedoms) is due to the service and sacrifice of so many men and women who have served this great nation during its time of need,” he said. “Today we honor those brave men and women who gave their lives to earn and preserve our many rights and freedoms and to help foreign nations secure peace and democracy, as well.”
Reisch closed with comments offered by Abraham Lincoln at the conclusion of his Gettysburg Address:
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Freeman’s Memorial Day program was emceed by Lonnie Tjaden, commander of the VFW, with support from the American Legion, including Morgan Kleinsasser, commander and service officer; Tjaden, vice commander; and Scott Peterson, adjutant.
Those veterans who lost their lives in 2019 and 2020 were remembered and included Charles Larson, Knud Solberg, Melvin Schmeichel, Myron Schaeffer, Gail Hagemann and Harley Thomas; a flag was placed in each man’s honor as their names were read, which was followed by a rifle salute by Freeman area veterans.
Kay Tjaden placed the wreath and Terry Makelin, pastor of the St. Paul Lutheran Church, offered both the opening and the closing prayer. His words to open Monday evening’s service were as follows:
Almighty ruler of the world in whom there is life and light, accept our thanks for those who died for us, our prayers for those who mourn, our praise for the hope you have given us. Refresh our hearts with the dedication of the ideals of heroic men, with the appreciation for the honesty of just men, with obedience to laws of upright men. Forgive us when our patriotism is hollow; when our nationalism is arrogant, when our allegiance is half-hearted. Stir within us thanksgiving for all we have inherited, vigilant for the freedoms of all men and willingness to sacrifice for all citizens. Comfort us with the joy that Christ died for all those who died for us, bringing life and immortality to light for all who believe in him. I ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives with you in the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.