Giving the ultimate sacrifice

• Memorial Day ceremony in Alva

Following a stormy weekend, Memorial Day 2024 dawned with perfect weather. A sizeable crowd gathered under the trees May 27 for the annual observance at the Alva Municipal Cemetery. Scout Troop 392 provided a color guard to raise flags into position at half-staff. A light breeze carried the sound of a passing train from over the hill.

Cemetery Board Chairman Lenny Reed introduced Drew Kirtley who gave the invocation. Merritt Mantz sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" as the crowd stood at attention. Then ceremonial rifles provided three salutes, and Donna Perot played "Taps" on her bugle.

Reed introduced veteran John Holt, the featured speaker. "Memorial Day is the day we honor and mourn those who died in the U.S. military, the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country," he said. In the summer of 1992, Holt left home for basic training and military police service. He said he was asked to write an essay about why he wanted to serve.

In his essay, he described how in his senior year of high school, he and his family lost their home to fire and were homeless. A group of men and women from the community picked him up from class and took him to the store where they helped him pick out new clothes and paid for them. He later learned several of these men and women were veterans who had served with hometown heroes that never returned home.

Later when he was approached by an Army recruiter, Holt decided to give back by joining the military. When he chose a job, he decided to follow in his law enforcement father's footsteps with the military police. In August 1993 at Ft. Riley he was placed under orders for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Speaking of his time in the military, Holt said, "These experiences have made me who I am today."

Following a closing prayer by Kirtley, the crowd was dismissed to enjoy donuts. Some went on to visit graves of loved one in the cemetery where flags waved from the graves of veterans.

 

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