News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters honors the fallen in ceremony

For many, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer, and it is observed with picnics, barbecues, and time in the outdoors. The day has more profound meaning, a point that was driven home with ceremony and decorum at Sisters' annual Memorial Day Observance, hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8138, American Legion Post 86, and Sisters Band of Brothers on Monday, May 27.

"We gather today not for a barbecue or a day off, but for a solemn purpose," said keynote speaker, U.S. Air Force veteran Gene Hellickson.

That purpose is to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in America's wars. Solemn, however, does not connote sadness, Hellickson noted. In proper context, it is, in fact, a day for celebration, too.

"Memorial Day is not an exercise in sadness," he said. "It is a reaffirmation that they did not die in vain. Memorial Day is a time for remembering - but also a time for celebrations and family gatherings."

Hellickson urged the large gathering at Village Green Park to take inspiration from those who heroically sacrificed their lives in service to their country to become better citizens and to "strive for a world in which such sacrifices are no longer necessary."

The theme of service was echoed in U.S. Navy veteran Jim Horsely's invocation, where he noted that those who died in America's wars enabled citizens to live in freedom - "freedom to do not what we want to do, but what we ought to do for our country and our community."

U.S. Army veteran and VFW Post Commander Pat Bowe served as Master of Ceremonies.

Mayor Michael Preedin, a U.S. Air Force veteran, welcomed the audience to the annual observance, and made a point of introducing City Manager Jordan Wheeler, recently appointed to the position. Wheeler thanked the veterans groups for their efforts in creating the event, as well as their many other services to the Sisters community.

"Sisters wouldn't be what it is without the spirit of service," he said.

The Redmond High School Marine Junior ROTC took responsibility for posting and retiring the colors, as well as laying a memorial wreath before the stones where Sisters records the names of veterans who have passed. They moved with precision through the evolutions of each ceremonial act. Steve Allely accompanied their actions with bagpipe music, David Wentworth offered a stirring rendition of the national anthem, Earl Schroeder led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Navy veteran Bill Antilla closed out the ceremony with the sounding of "Taps."

An honor guard comprised of Ed Owens, USAF, Lance Trowbridge, U.S. Army, David Seher, U.S. Army, and Faye Stillwell, USAF, fired a rifle salute, and a U.S. Navy trainer plane from World War II, piloted by John Baldwin roared high above the Village Green.

Bowe "dismissed" the assemblage to gather for hamburgers and fellowship, in what one attendee called "the essence of America."

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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