Speakers at Monday's Memorial Day program in Morris underscored the need to remember the service of veterans everyday, not just one day out of the year.
The Morris American Legion-sponsored program drew an audience to the Morris Area Concert Hall and the cemetery for a grave-side service.
Following the Presentation of Colors, Pastor Rob Jarvis in his invocation asked that Americans continually remember the liberties secured by those who served.
"Not only should we remember their service this morning but move us and our country to cherish what they've done all the time," Jarvis said.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem, the Legion Auxiliary paid tribute to the Gold Star families, and the audience joined in a sing-along of America the Beautiful.
Morris resident and veteran Erv Krosch delivered the Memorial Day address, starting by reading letters written by veterans who died in combat. One woman, a medic in Iraq, helped save the life of a sergeant in a firefight, and later volunteered to ride in the lead vehicle in a convoy. She was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near the vehicle.
"What do you say to someone who made the ultimate sacrifice," Krosch said. "Thank you is a start but it seems woefully inadequate."
Krosch then said that belittling the nature of the conflict in which veterans are involved was a dishonor to their service and sacrifice.
"Whether a war is unpopular or popular, the sacrifice is still the same," he said.
Krosch read from the words of another soldier who sent his family "a letter he hoped they'd never read." In it, the soldier spoke to his young daughter: "Hopefully, you will understand why I didn't come home and that you will be proud of me."
Krosch called on all Americans, not just service groups, to help the families of fallen soldiers with things like educational expenses.
"If you asked (soldiers) how they'd like to be honored, most would probably say, 'Take care of my family,' " Krosch said, adding that Americans also must be diligent in keeping the meaning of Memorial Day alive.
"It is not about beaches, picnics or auto races," he said. "It's a day to remember."
Families that have lost loved ones in conflicts are reminded daily, by an empty chair or a smaller Thanksgiving Day gathering, what they have lost. Americans need to do the same, Krosch said.
"Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough," he said.
The Silent Tribune to the Dead was followed by a POW-MIA table prayer. God Bless America was sung and Jarvis delivered the Benediction. The Gold Star families were escorted from the hall under the Charlie Company banner, and the colors were retired before those at the program resumed the program at the grave-side service.