The dedication of a long-sought decommissioned howitzer was the highlight of an impressive Memorial Day celebration on the county’s east end.
In spite of a sense of triumph, the mood was somber as Camp Gordon Johnston American Legion Post 82 celebrated Memorial Day 2013.
About 40 members, friends and supporters of the post gathered together to dedicate a decommissioned field armament and welcome it to its new home on Oak Street.
Former Post Commander Bill Miller received a plaque and an award for his efforts in obtaining the gun as a monument to all veterans. He also did the honors and cut a red, white and blue braided ribbon to officially receive the gun.
Miller said he has worked on obtaining a piece of military equipment for the post for 53 years.
“When Dad founded this post in 1957, he started trying,” Miller said. “When I moved here permanently in 1960, I took up the cause. Congressman Sikes had something in front of every Legion Post from here to Pensacola but we weren’t in his district. We finally got on the list, but it still took five years until we were finally approved in 2012. If it hadn’t been for Greg Christopherson and his computer, we still wouldn’t have it. I am really grateful. This is definitely at the top of my bucket list.”
During the dedication, Miller told his audience, “If all the guns in the world were silent, we wouldn’t have to have this, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. So this is to remind us of all of those who have fallen to protect our nation and to remind the world that the United States will defend itself against all enemies.”
Miller raised $3,000 to bring the gun to Lanark.
In addition to the moving dedication and ribbon cutting, the flag was raised and lowered to half mast and Chaplin Barbara Cook read a devotional.
“She prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, oh, Holy One, oh, God Our Creator, we are gathered here today to honor and pay tribute to the veterans who sacrificed their lives so we could meet here today without fear of armed soldiers.
Bless the Lord who is my rock. He gives me strength for war and skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my deliverer. He stands before me as a shield and I take refuge in him. He subdues the nations under me.
In this turbulent world, we give our thanks and gratitude to the servicemen and women who are protecting our freedom that we so often take for granted. There will always be wars and rumors of war until our Lord returns to Earth again. Until his return, we should pray every day that he might protect and watch over our troops.”
After the dedication, a final ceremony was held in the picnic shelter behind the Legion Hall where more than 200 retired flags were honorably disposed of by burning. The flags were full sized ones collected over the last year and small flags exchanged for new ones placed on the graves of East End veterans on Sunday.
Christopherson officiated in the solemn ceremony and, with help from Cook and David Butler laid the flags to honorable rest.
Following the day’s solemn duties, everyone was invited inside for a chicken dinner prepared by Thomas Lee, Becky Whaley and many, many helpers.
World War II vet Mary Britz was on hand looking fit and happy in red, white and blue.
At the Lanark Village Boat Club, 50 people joined to celebrate the holiday and enjoy a potluck picnic with burgers, pulled pork and hot dogs prepared by Norm Gembel and Carol Daddona. The group rose and sang “God Bless America” prior to the feast.