By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Members of local patriotic organizations gathered Monday morning to remember and pay tribute to those who served their country and gave their all.
The Memorial Day ceremony included a keynote speech by Major Philip Kwan of the United States Marine Corps. Maj. Kwan is a Ste. Genevieve resident, currently an active duty infantry battalion operations officer in St. Louis.
Kwan, who been a line and weapons platoon command officer, executive officer, company commander and foreign advisory team leader, and who deployed multiple times for Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve, spoke about how his desire to serve was pricked as a college student following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
He described a day in 2020, when to friends in his platoon, Moe and Diego, were killed in a fire fight with ISIS fighters.
“To me, Memorial Day is not a day of grieving,” Kwan said. “It’s not a day of sadness. It’s a day of remembrance. In my mind, as long as we speak their name, as long as we tell their story, those individuals never truly die.”
The ceremonies also remembered local veterans who had died since 2020. Other deceased veterans were honored outside in the Avenue of Flags, where 212 funeral flags were flown.
“I am humbled by the fact that there are people in this room, that there are people not in this room,” Kwan said, “that have dedicated an impactful portion of their lives,that have dedicated their entire lives, that have given their life so that we have the choice to live whatever life it is that we choose.”
The ceremony also featured music by the Ste. Genevieve German Band, an Honor Guard firing a salute, and Grace Lipp, winner of the VFW Auxiliary “Sing America” contest singing the National Anthem. Rose Hughey, meanwhile, led the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”
District Two Commissioner Randy Ruzicka and Ward 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson both spoke, representing the county and city respectively.
Betty Arnold, past department president and local auxiliary president,presented a certificate to Doris Meyer, widow of the late Leon “Sonny” Meyer, who was commander of VFW Lodge # 2210 at the time of his death, Sept. 12, 2021.