By Bill Schock
Given a break in the dreary weather, those participating in the Memorial Day programs at the Rulo Cemetery and Falls City’s Steele Cemetery did a super job of paying tribute to this nation’s war dead.
Larry Whalen, a Korean War veteran and commander of the Falls Ceremonial Honor Guard, planned and emceed both programs, as he has done for over 25 years.
Ken Simpson, an Air Force veteran, long-time member of the Ceremonial Honor Guard, past commander of the Falls City American Legion post and chief of the Falls City Fire Department, was the speaker at the Rulo service.
Ray Vinsonhaler, also a long-time member of the ceremonial Honor Guard, is an Air Force veteran, and through the years has been a member and officer in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts spoke at Steele Cemetery.
Both speakers related the history of Memorial Day and its meaning and stressed that “remembering our fallen once a year is not enough.” In their talks Simpson and Vinsonhaler reminded their audiences that “Americas must remember that freedom isn’t free and it’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price.”
The Rev. Paul Weinert gave the opening and closing prayers at both services.
The vocal soloists at the two programs were Mid Bauer, who sang “Fallen But Not Forgotten” and Annie Crofford, who sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Both were excellent.
The color guards recognized by Whalen included the Falls City Ceremonial Honor Guard, the VFW Auxiliary Guard and the Ceremonial Guard of the Kansas-Nebraska Iowa Tribe. A squad from the Falls City Ceremonial Honor Guard commander by Larry Fischer, fired the rifle salute. Jim Davidson, also of the Honor Guard, played “Taps.”
Whalen paid tribute to Gold Star mothers Patricia Holtz, Theone Kuhlman,
Anita Nolte and Noala Fritz.
“A Tribute to Our Departed” was given by emcee Whalen.
Commanders of Falls City veterans’ posts were introduced: American Legion Post l02, Kenneth Coonce; Disabled American Veterans, Allen Donigan; Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 455, Gerald Fritz; Sons of the American Legion, Jake Cochran.
Jack Sells placed the flags on veterans’ graves at the Rulo Cemetery and
Rulo Catholic Cemetery and members of Boy Scout Troop 396, under the direction of Scoutmaster David Young and Ray Vinsonhaler did the same at Steele Cemetery.
Placing the crosses at the replica bier at the Rulo Cemetery in a memorial to deceased veterans wereRevolutionary War, Jim Lee Prater; Civil War, Tim Koelzer; Spanish-American War, Shelly Waggoner; World War I, Jane Zentner; World War II, Donnie Simmonds; Korean War, Gary Prater; Vietnam War, Francis Simmonds; Disabled American Veterans, Kryan Prater; Desert Storm, Ron Prater; Salvation Army, Melissa Coonce.
Those doing the same honors at Steele Cemetery were: Revolutionary War, Barbara Sailors; Civil War, Sharon Sells; Spanish-American War, Charlotte Gentry; World War I, Kim Oliver; World War II, Marilyn Capps; Korean War, Kendra Ballagh; Vietnam War, Donna Stumbo; Disabled American Veterans, Victoria Vollmer;
Desert Storm, Susan Witt; American Red Cross, Megan Vollmer.
At noon the VFW Auxiliary served a free lunch at the Legion Club for those attending and participating in the days events.