The Anoka community gathered Monday for its annual Memorial Day tribute at the Veterans Memorial at Forest Hills Cemetery.
Several hundred people came out to honor those who have served in the military, in particular the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
Hosted by the Anoka American Legion Post 102, Monday’s memorial included many reminders of why it important to pause and reflect on the impact military service has on all of our lives.
“This day is sacred,” said Post Commander Fadi Awaijane. “We honor the members who have given their lives in the service of our country. Let us renew our pledge to our country and our flag.”
The North Suburban Concert Band was on hand to play a patriotic soundtrack for Monday’s service.
Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Kevin Gerdes gave a Memorial Day address that recognized the cost of military service.
“We have so much to be grateful for,” said Gerdes. “Yet too often we take these blessings and freedoms for granted.”
The religious freedoms and securities enjoyed in the United States are not so common in many parts of the world.
“While in Iraq I witnessed citizens who couldn’t trust their neighbor for fear of being killed,” he said.
Gerdes is an Assistant Division Commander-Support 34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division with the Minnesota Army National Guard.
During his 32-year career, Gerdes has served in a variety of position including executive officer and commander at the Battery, Battalion and Brigade level as well as state personnel director for the Beyond the Yellow ribbon program.
Gerdes served a tour of duty in Iraq as the commander of the First Battalion 151st Field Artillery, where he earned a bronze star. He has also served as chief of staff for the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Gerdes has an optimistic outlook on the young people who are now committing to serve the United States.
“These dedicated men and women take an oath to serve with conditions on where they will be sent to fight an no guarantees they would return alive,” said Gerdes. “This is a generation that give great hope for the future.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” were the words of Thomas Jefferson, shared by Gerdes Monday.
Then Gerdes said, “I assure you our tree of liberty is strong because of patriots of all generations.”
During the ceremony more than a dozen wreaths of remembrance were laid, recognizing individuals who lost their lives in combat as well as veterans from both World Wars, along with those from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org