BY NICK MILLER WEEKLY EDITOR and SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – O’Fallon started off a day of remembrance with a service at O’Fallon Cemetery on Monday morning. Members of the OTHS Marching Panthers, conducted by Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds, opened the ceremonies with a medley of patriotic hymns, followed by VFW Post 805 Commander Ed Martinez’s opening remarks.
The keynote speaker of the morning was O’Fallon City Clerk and Vietnam veteran Phil Goodwin. Goodwin talked a lot about the new perspective many Americans have on the perils and heroism our veterans faced at home and abroad thanks to television shows and documentaries dedicated to telling the stories of our military heroes.
“For a while, it seemed like we were losing the focus on what Memorial Day is about. We saw it as a day off, a reason to barbecue,” Goodwin said. “Maybe it is the many movies and TV shows that have shed new light on the many sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, but regardless the reason, something has changed about the way Americans think about our heroes.”
The ceremony concluded with a 21 Gun Salute from the VFW Post 805 Honor Guard and a somber playing of “Taps” on bugle. Goodwin ended by saying, “Treat Memorial Day with honor and respect, and others will follow your lead.”
At 11:30 a.m., a ceremony began at the O’Fallon Veterans’ Monument. The OTHS Air Force Junior ROTC posted the colors, while the National Anthem was sung by Lauren Lundy, a St. Louis Opera Theater student.
Brigadier General Randall Read gave remarks during the presentation. He spoke about how, during his preparation for the event, he met a man and his grandson at the monument a day prior. Read said the man was a veteran of World War II and served on the USS Mississippi. Read said the experience provided him a unique perspective on Memorial Day, that it wasn’t just about honoring those that have given all, but also a celebration of life and a day to honor history.
Read also spoke about the O’Fallon community and how deeply appreciative he and the other men and women at Scott Air Force Base appreciate the way the town welcomes them.
Twenty-eight new names were added to the Bravery Pillar at the Veterans’ Monument. Names added to the left column are Roy E. Carlson, Ronald H. Anheuser, Lyle S. Corey, Gale S. Newgent Jr., Thomas A. Zach, Ralph J. Wottowa, Joseph W. Werle, David G. Cugier, Brent D. Krohn, and Richard L. LaFreniere. Names added to the right column are William A. Bramley, William A. Bramley Jr., Gerald J. Frisbee, Thomas M. James, Donald P. Bjornson, David L. Bjornson, Brian M. Bjornson, Risdon M. Moore, Wilbur F. Moore, and Richard A. Lunan. Names added to the center column are Frank R. Armstrong, Darryl L. Stankevitz, James A. Scales Jr., Marcia A. Bedard, Craig S. Bedard, Michael C. Dixon, Laura J. Obal, and Brian D. Johnson.