|5/27/2014 4:45:00 PM|
Sisters honors fallen on Memorial Day
"It is for the fallen that we are here today," said Col. Mike Brock, USMC Ret., as he looked out over Monday's gathering at the Village Green Park.
|Co. Mike Brock, USMC Ret., addresses the Sisters Memorial Day gathering at the Village Green Park. photo by Jim Cornelius|
Col. Brock was the featured speaker at the annual Memorial Day observance hosted by American Legion Post 86 and VFW Post 8138.
"It is a day to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
Local veterans, their families, and a host of other community members turned out to the flag-and-flower-bedecked Village Green for a solemn yet uplifting tribute. VFW Post Commander Bill Antilla welcomed the onlookers and instructed them in etiquette as Redmond High School's Marine Junior ROTC color squad posted the colors.
Sara Marcus, Miss Rodeo Oregon, led the assemblage in the national anthem to start the program.
A key ritual was the setting of a table with an empty chair symbolizing POW/MIA. American Legion Vice Commander John Ferguson explained the symbolic import of each item as American Legion Post Commander Lance Trowbridge set the small table in recognition of those whose fates cannot for certain be known.
Col. Brock also touched on the POW experience, noting the story of now-deceased Bend veteran Dick Caldwell, who was one of the Marines who made a stand on Wake Island at the very beginning of the Pacific campaign in World War II.
Caldwell would be "guest of the emperor of Japan" for four years.
"Every day was a day of resilience, resistance and determination," Brock said.
At liberation Caldwell weighed an emaciated 100 pounds and had to be carried on a stretcher. Brock recounted how Caldwell insisted upon standing to salute the flag.
"He got up, saluted, then collapsed," Brock recalled.
Caldwell would recover from the harrowing experience. He died in 2005 in Bend at the age of 85.
Brock recounted the hundreds of thousands of military deaths that have occurred since the American Civil War, which Memorial Day was created to commemorate.
The Vietnam War and Desert Storm veteran noted that the sacrifice continues.
"Today we're still locked in conflict in the Middle East, and the lives of over 6,000 precious loved ones have been lost since 1990," he said.
With the help of the High Desert Chorale, the somber tone was lifted to exuberance as veterans stood to applause at the singing of each service branch's hymn.
The ceremony was followed by a barbecue at the Village Green.
Sisters-area veterans interested in joining the VFW or American Legion may contact VFW Post 8138 commander Bill Antilla at 541-549-1132; American Legion Post Commander Lance Trowbridge at 541-903-1123.
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