Take a moment…Remember the Fallen

May 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, Community

Memorial Day is upon us, and as most of you know by now, I love veterans. In this day and age where most people think about barbecues, beer, and three-days off, many of us give time to say thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country, fighting for freedom, and protecting the American Dream. And lest we not forget, we think of those who served, were injured physically or emotionally, and those who stand ready to protect us today. Please say thanks to our fighting men and women, and a silent prayer for those who died with honor or are still captured or missing, so that we could continue to taste freedom.

Once in a while, a story suggestion just gets to me in “my feels.” This one struck home. Jim and Martha Kosel, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army respectively, are Mount Angel icons because of their service to our country and their significant work honoring Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIA). Through the American Legion Post 89 of Mount Angel and the coordination of many support groups such as St. Mary Church, police, fire, music clubs, and others, Jim drives the Memorial Day service at Mount Angel Cemetery. A week before the event, the Post makes the veterans’ headstones and gravesites shine. On the Friday before, they place over 400 flags for veterans at seven different cemeteries.

A POW/MIA table will be on display this year and it includes one red rose. Martha’s parents lived in Pasco, Washington when her younger brother, Richard, was killed in action in Viet Nam. A red rose was presented to them in his memory and Martha took starts from it 12 years ago. One was planted in her yard, and the other at Mount Angel Towers where her mother was living at the time.

“Richard gave his life for our country and seeing the rose and knowing its history makes me think of him and all the other brave men and women willing to fight for our freedom. Memorial Day is the day we honor our fallen comrades,” Martha says.

She urges people to respect the day before hitting the bratwurst or shopping a sale, as there are 82,000 missing POW/MIAs since WWII in places such as Flanders Field or entombed in sunken ships.

The POW/MIA table (pictured above) has many items on it, each for a particular reason. The tablecloth for the table is always white, symbolizing the pure intention with which comrades have served. The table is small with a setting for just one person, reflecting the vulnerability of one prisoner against his enemy. A single rose in a vase sits alone symbolizing the blood that has been shed, and the families and loved ones that have been left behind with the faith they uphold that their loved one will one day return. A slice of lemon is placed on a bread plate as a reminder of their bitter fate, and the salt on the plate represents the tears that have been shed by their families as they quietly wait. A glass on the table is inverted which denotes their inability to be with us and toast with us this night, and a candle represents the light in our hearts that hopes that they will one day find their way home. A solitary chair is placed at the table and remains empty, for they are not here with us. And of course, the American flag reminds us that many of them may never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice to insure our freedom

Martha states, “The table is not done every year. While the basic services are the same, all involved with honoring our brethren, we have also read the verses and history of Flanders Fields, and the verses and history of TAPS.”

The Service will include a Catholic Mass, reading of the names of the Fallen from Mount Angel (those deceased in action), an Honor Guard firing volleys, and the Sounding of TAPS.

Jim and Martha and the American Legion Post 89 invite all veterans to march into the Cemetery with us at about 9:45 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. If the weather is inclement, the ceremony will be at St. Mary Church.

Meanwhile, the 36th annual Silverton Hospital Fun Run, on behalf of Legacy Silverton Medical Center, honored several individuals who have played key roles in the Silverton Hospital Fun Run (an oxymoron if ever there was one!), over the past 35 years. Dr. Michael Gray of Legacy Medical Group and Silverton Area Community Aid President initiated this run 36 years ago and continues to run it annually. Art Cocker, a community member has been running this race for a continuous 35 years and is registered again this year. Kay Seiler of Legacy Silverton Medical Center has been planning and organizing this event for nearly 20 years. I got winded just thinking about their accomplishments! The 36th running and walking event was held on May 11. Congratulations!

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.