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Ottumwa’s Memorial Day Program returns with reminders of patriotism and sacrifice

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 10:49 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - A memorial day program at Jimmy Jones Pavilion in the Greater Ottumwa Park, after last year’s was put on pause because of COVID-19. Emcee for the program, Brian Morgan, noted: “it’s damn good to be back.”

It was both a showcase of patriotism and a somber reminder of sacrifice. VFW Post 775 members, alongside the local American Legion Honor Guard, read 154 names of veterans who’ve passed. A larger number than previous programs’, since it encompasses last year as well.

VFW Commander Gary Frederick noted the difficult year of 2020, saying they’ve pushed through that to come together to memorialize. “In our spirit, we remember their names and their faces, and their service legacy. So that their faces are never forgotten.”

Local Veterans, doing just that, remembering people close to them who served. Terry Bradley, who served in the Coast Guard and is now director of Wapello County Veteran Affairs, says today he’s “remembering my cousins who were lost in Vietnam, [and] my father, who just passed away, who was a Marine in Korea.”

John Fenner, a local and a Navy Veteran, was pleased to see the turnout. “I know that there are good people here - there are great people here - and there are people who have gone into the military, out of pride, and some didn’t come back.”

The program’s Keynote speaker, State House Representative Cherielynn Westrich, brought up the final line of the National Anthem, saying it still applies as much today as ever. “We are the home of the brave. We are the land of the free. And that, yes, that Star-Spangled Banner does still wave.”

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