Mankato residents joined the Walter Strand VFW Post 950 and Auxiliary at Mount Olivet Cemetery this Memorial Day morning to honor those who have fallen.
“Really it’s still an honor for us, the living that remain, to pay our respects to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” says Blue Earth County Veterans Service Officer Mike McLaughlin. “It may be a little hot out here and some people may be a little inconvenienced by the heat, but for us, it’s still a pleasure and it’s still something we willing do as long as we can.”
McLaughlin says remembrance is key, because the living will forget the sacrifices and suffering of past generations.
“Historic battles and a lot of those historic engagements where men and women served their country and gave their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice, as you can see there’s a whole lot of World War 1 vets around here to pay honor and remember that. I’m far from a World War 1 vet, if we don’t keep that memory alive, it’ll be forgotten forever.”
Earlier this month, Twenty-two-year-old Navy Radioman 2nd Class Quentin Gifford of Mankato was honored and laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Gifford was killed in the Japanese aircraft attack on the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
McLaughlin says remembrances like that help bring closure for the family and the Country.
“I think whenever you can have closure for those service members that never came home or had a delay in coming home, it has to be some sort of comfort or additional comfort. I think as a nation, we all wanna do the right thing and honor and respect those that paid the ultimate sacrifice in the end.”
The Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized. More than 420 crew members were killed, including Gifford.
The Walter Stand VFW Post 950 and Auxiliary also held Memorial Day observances at Glenwood Cemetery, Decoria Cemetery and Minneopa Cemetery.