Town of Paradise Valley remembers fallen heroes on Memorial Day

The Town of Paradise Valley commemorated a special Memorial Day in the Town Cemetery on Monday, May 28.

Residents experienced posting of colors, prayers, heartfelt speeches, wreaths, and a shared memory of those who served this country.

There was an honor guard rifle salute led by Capt. Ed Bogonovich. Taps was beautifully played by Gil Gifford. The Master of Ceremonies was Hayden Duff, Quartermaster with VFW 3513.

Keynote speaker was Councilman Mark Stanton who eloquently touched hearts with the importance of this day and the teaching of what Memorial Day means to the next generation by involving his children in the presentation.

Councilman Mark Stanton’s thoughtful speech is reprinted below to commemorate our Country’s heroes:

Thank you all for being here. I am honored to represent the Town of Paradise Valley. I would also like to recognize public officials present of

Paradise Valley Councilmember Julie Pace and Arizona State House Representative Maria Syms.

Thank you for being present at this important event. I also thank our veterans, active military and public safety personnel of which several are here with us.

Today we commemorate what was originally referred to as Decoration Day.

It was a day to decorate the graves of war dead following the Civil War. Now known as Memorial Day, this day became an official Federal holiday in 1971 honoring those lives that were lost at War.

On this day we take time to remember and honor the people that gave the greatest sacrifice for their country and our freedom. Fallen heroes of liberty that served in different wars on home soil, and around the world in various branches of the military.

We thank them in our hearts, we grieve with their families and friends and, we enjoy our freedom because of their sacrifice. This week, as I was thinking about this today’s event, my thoughts went to the importance of remembering those lost and, more specifically, their stories.

For each of the fallen heroes had a life story…their stories had dreams, hopes, daily lives, they likely went to school, had friends, jobs and they knew love, joy, laughter and sorrow during their lives — like all of us.

Sadly, their stories have one ultimate commonality: they gave their lives for their country.

I thought about their lives and the story of their collective destiny and, how that story must live on, so that future generations will honor their memory and recognize their life-ending sacrifice. That is our responsibility.

This week, I thought of what I could do personally, to underscore this important day for future generations. I had a talk with my two children, my son Drake who is 10 years old and his sister Olivia who is 8 years old. They are here this morning. They have both been studying in school about the United States history of past wars. And, we talked beyond the specific dates, names of wars and battles.

We discussed the people that served and the word “sacrifice” and why we recognize Memorial Day.

After we spoke, I asked them to write a few words about what they think Memorial Day stands for. My son Drake Stanton wrote:

“We remember all the men and women that gave their lives for America. From the revolutionary War to the Civil War. WWII and WWI. The Vietnam War and all other wars America has gone through, all the sacrifices in the wars from the Navy, Army, Airforce, Marines and Coast Guard. And, just because (some) of their names were not found, we must remember those who were lost in battle without identification and the families that lost husbands, fathers and friends and the heroics of men on the battlefield. We remember those who served.”

Olivia Stanton read her words to the audience:

“Celebrating the people who passed away and taking time to remember them. From protecting what we love and taking care of the people that have friends that passed way. Loving the people who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and all the rest. We thank you for taking this day to remember the people lost who were friends and family.”

Mr. Stanton closed with “Although we can never repay the debt, we can remember them on this day, Memorial Day, and tell their story so that we and future generations never forget. We honor the patriots who have given their life to keep our way of life, our freedoms safe and secure. Please tell that story. The story is far from over. The call to arms continues and, more sacrifices will come. For those fallen, God bless you and, God Bless the United States of America.”

Joint memorial services involved the American Legion Post 44, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22, Elks Lodge 2148, Knights of Columbus Assembly 2524, and Veterans of Foreign War 3513.

General orders was given by Commander Bob Graves, Eulogies by Lynn Youngs, Commander John Orendorff, John Rutkowski and Memorial prayers by Chaplain Billy Martin. Many residents were in attendance, as well as Arizona State House of Representative Maria Syms and her family and Town Councilwoman Julie Pace.

Editor’s Note: Julie Pace is a member of Paradise Valley Town Council.

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