HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg celebrated Memorial Day with the spirited words of Glenn Poshard honoring the country's deceased servicemen and servicewomen for protecting America's hard-won freedoms.
Poshard, a former congressman for the region, in addition to serving as state senator, gubernatorial candidate and president of the Southern Illinois University system, gave a stirring speech recalling the lack of rights colonists suffered prior to the American Revolution. He invoked former presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Thomas Jefferson in reiterating why American rights and freedoms must not be ignored.
Poshard thanked veterans who gave their lives for not only protecting the rights of Americans but also fighting for those freedoms against dictatorial control in other countries.
"We will ensure that these deaths will not have been in vain, that this nation shall have a new burden of freedom," Poshard said.
Several members of the community also were recognized for their contributions. Harrisburg High School graduate Blake Eversmann was recognized by the Michael Hillegas DAR chapter for his work cleaning the crosses of the Little Arlington area of the Harrisburg Veterans Memorial. Eversmann's sister, Kirsten Eversmann, was asked to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Harrisburg resident and Korean War veteran Don Cooper was recognized for his years of fundraising and efforts to create the veterans memorial. Vocalists Teresa Pankey, better known as Mama T, and Devin Hankins sang music for the event as well. Harrisburg Scouts BSA members and Cub Scouts led in the Pledge of Allegiance. DAR Regent Kathy Morris read "In Flanders Fields" and DAR members Cheri McClusky and Sharon Pyle placed a wreath on a stand in remembrance of deceased military members.
An honor guard 21-gun salute and "Taps" finished the ceremony, which Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek continues to grow each year.