SHERIDAN — Under a warm sun and beautiful blue sky, near a park where people picnicked and children played, a group gathered in a park on Monday and remembered.
Members of Lester J. Sitts VFW Post 5065 led a memorial service at Pearl Lake beach area where they paid tribute to fallen soldiers. The Central Montcalm High School band, under the direction of Matt Reed, provided patriotic music.
“Walk through a flag-draped cemetery today,” said Pastor Philip Van Dop of First Congregational Church of Sheridan, “You will see this is a day of memory, not just a holiday.”
The Memorial Day service was one of the final events of a five-day Sheridan Springfest, sponsored by the VFW Post.
“The weather was great all weekend and we had good crowds at all events,” said Sue Mocherman, Springfest Committee chairwoman. “I feel like it was a success. The only areas we need help in are getting more sponsors to help financially, and getting more volunteers.”
Two events added this year were a family movie night in the park on Saturday night and a fireworks display on Sunday night, both of which will successful and will return for next year.
“We had several families here for the movie and would like to say a special thank you to Bill Collins for the fireworks show. It was one of the best I have ever seen,” Mocherman said.
The Kids’ Games on Sunday had 45 children registered, but more than 100 came throughout the afternoon, Mocherman said. The number of cars entered in the car show was down to 145 this year, but still was a crowd-pleasing event that was also well-attended, she added.
“We like to come each year and see the different cars, especially the older one,” said Richard Finch of Lakeview, who brought along his daughter, Brittinie Finch of Winn, to the Saturday night event.
The Coloring Contest and Poster Contest also had a good number of entries, according to Lori Braman of the Springfest Committee. First place in the Coloring Contest went to second-grader Madison Long, while first-grader Everett Wilkinson earned second place, fourth-grader Courtney Guelzo garnered third place and fourth-grader Titus Johns placed fourth.
Poster winners were Ternna Smith in first place and Garrett Wolverton in second place.
Crowds along the parade route waved at their favorite entries and stood in honor for units carrying the American flag. Many of those were veterans themselves, coming out to honor other comrades.
“For me, Memorial Day means peace and freedom,” said James Mays of Sheridan, who served in Germany from 1966-1969 in the U.S. Army, “I’m glad I could do it, and I’m proud of all who have served and gave to our country.”
Gene Ehle of Stanton comes to the parade every year.
“It’s close to home,” said Ehle, who served 14 months in the Vietnam war, “But also many of our soldiers were not well received when they came home. This is one day we can honor them.”
World War II veteran Bernard Long of Vickeryville is also one who plans on attending the parade each year.
Serving from 1945-1946 in the U.S. Navy, Long said Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend.
“You take one day out of the year, and think about what you’ve done for your country, think about the friends you’ve lost and what they did for us,” he said.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.