Local ceremonies commemorating Memorial Day (May 31) got underway Saturday morning with the annual memorial service at Riverview Memory Gardens, just east of Defiance on County Road 424.

Guest speaker for the ceremony was Defiance City Police Chief Todd Shafer, who stressed the patriotic nature of this region and our gratitude to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us.

“Many may say that these men and women who gave their lives were driven by honor, duty or even patriotism, when in fact they were given in the most selfless acts of love that one can make,” said Shafer. “That is why we gather here today to remember those brave soldiers and their selfless acts of love on this day of remembrance.”

Shafer pointed out the many historical markers and monuments found throughout the county in honor of past military heroes.

“The largest of these monuments is the Purple Heart Bridge that was named and dedicated for this very reason, so that we may remember, not just once a year, but daily that over one million three hundred thousand men and women have sacrificed their lives for us since our forefathers chose to start fighting to become a free and independent nation,” said Shafer.

“I believe it is our duty to remember and honor those who chose to pay the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that our freedoms would be safeguarded and our country remain a safe haven for freedom that no other country has.

“I challenge all of you gathered today to remember these selfless acts of love ... and never allow those sacrifices to be taken for granted. I challenge you to remember these brave and selfless men and women every time you cross the Purple Heart Bridge, every time you freely drive to your place of worship and every time that you get to spend time with your loved ones. I challenge you to remember these men and women in all that you do and to honor them for their sacrifices that they made that you may enjoy these freedoms.”

Other speakers during Saturday morning’s ceremony were David Uetterling, Chaplain Disabled American Veterans Post 36, Defiance. Uetterling delivered the invocation and benediction. DAV Auxiliary treasurer Judy Uetterling was on hand to place the ceremonial wreath. Ric Booher, office holder in several Defiance veterans groups, read a poem about the 911 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Booher also played Taps. Other special music was provided by Kari Rosania, who performed the National Anthem and Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

Welcoming and closing comments were provided by Trish Speiser, Riverview Memory Gardens manager.

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