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American Legion hosts Memorial Day program

by Marc Hayot | May 31, 2023 at 1:31 p.m.
Marc Hayot/Herald-Leader VFW Post 1674 Commander Keith Schultz (left) and Charles Ricks read the names of service members who are on the KIA Memorial in Memorial Park as DAV Post 64 Commander Ron Evans sounds the bell after each name read. This ceremony was held during the American Legion Post 29's Memorial Day program on Monday at the Siloam Springs Community Building

Siloam Springs' American Legion Post 29 held its annual Memorial Day program on Monday at the Siloam Springs Community Building.

The program featured speeches from Arkansas State Senator Tyler Dees (R-35), Siloam Springs Mayor Judy Nation and Colonel David Pelky USAR. Local musician Randy Steele sang two patriotic songs and the names of those whose killed in action from World War I. to Operation Enduring Freedom.

Videos that were planned for the beginning and end of the program were not shown due to technical difficulties, said Post Commander Jerry Cavness.

Chaplain Madden Waits began the program with the invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem by Cavness.

Service Officer Tim Rogers introduced Nation, who spoke about how her family has experienced loss due to war and the importance of taking the time to remember those who had fallen.

"Their memory may be etched on a memorial," Nation said. "But their hearts live on in a grateful nation."

Cavness then introduced Dees who began by talking about his roots in Siloam Springs and spoke about honoring veterans.

Dees said citizens can honor those who lost their lives in three ways.

The three ways are acknowledging and remembering past sacrifices, teaching the next generation about American Exceptionalism and to live life to the fullest while serving others in the process, Dees said.

He concluded his speech by quoting John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

After Dees Spoke Commanders Ron Evans, of DAV Post 64 and Keith Schultz of VFW Post 1674 along with Charles Ricks performed the remembrance ceremony. Ricks and Schultz read the names of those on the KIA Memorial in Memorial Park as Evans sounded the bell after each name was read.

Rogers then introduced Pelky. Pelky began by saying he was always in awe of those who had served because they were the heroes. He said veterans love to tell stories but usually they are about other veterans and spoke about what it means when he is thanked for his service.

"It's taken me even longer to really understand that when I'm accepting a thank you," Pelky said. "I'm really not accepting it on my behalf. I'm accepting on the behalf of that person who's not sitting there, who never made it home."

Pelky then gave the statistics of casualties of every war from the American Revolution to the War on Terror, not including Panama, Grenada, Kosovo and Bosnia. Pelky said it is not just about a number it's more about the empty chair.

Then Pelky spoke about three friends of his who paid the ultimate price and quoted a line from the movie "Saving Private Ryan" where Tom Hanks' character tells Private Ryan at the end of the movie to earn this, meaning his life at home.

Pelky said that quote wasn't just for the movie, but for the audience as well.

"So we should remember them," Pelky said. "We should live our lives worthy of their sacrifice ... We should choose what is right."

Pelky concluded by saying that as he approaches retirement he prays that his service honors the legacy of those who gave their lives for their country.

Steele then took the stage and sang two patriotic songs and was followed by Rogers' granddaughters Paige and Payton Lesso who both played TAPS.

Waits then gave the benediction at the conclusion of the program.

  photo  Marc Hayot/Herald-Leader Colonel David Pelky (left) USAR speaks at the American Legion Post 29's Memorial Day program on Monday at the Siloam Springs Community Building. Pelky spoke about those who have come before him, friends who paid the ultimate price and the importance of living a life that honors those who gave their life for this country.

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