Issues including inclement weather, the coronavirus pandemic, and appropriate social distancing expectations did little to dampen the patriotism shown at the 2020 Dodge City Memorial Day Ceremony.
Avenue of Flags Chairman Allen Burkhart was pleased with the program. “We spend a lot of time organizing these events,” Burkhart said. “But there are always glitches to be overcome. Despite expected complications, it was our duty to honor those veterans who suffered and died in our many wars.”
The event is a long-standing project of Dodge City’s GI Forum, VFW, and American Legion. The 475 flags raised by the Boy Scouts of America fluttered in the light rain as Master-of-Ceremonies Charles Sellens introduced Mike Wagner for the invocation.
Sellens then introduced the keynote speaker, SFC Derek Pollock. Sargent Pollock is an active duty Army recruiter. He served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.
He is highly decorated including the Army Commendation Medal awarded for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service. The title of his presentation was: “Honoring our Heroes.”
SFC Pollock recognized that people throughout the country were gathering to remember, honor, and pay gratitude to those who have died in the service of our country.
“Our gathering at Maple Grove Cemetery is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day,” Pollock said. “Some might think it’s unimportant, but it’s the way we can honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom.”
The next activity was the wreath laying ceremony by the VFW, GI Forum, and American Legion. Auxiliary representatives from each organization laid wreaths in front of the Unknown Soldier Memorial and the Viet Nam Memorial.
Jessie Ramos honored his fellow veterans by laying a bouquet of roses at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Master-of-Ceremonies Sellens called on Mike Wagner who delivered the benediction. Master-at-Arms David Grasser commanded the honor guard in presenting a three-volley-rifle salute. Dan Stacy played taps to end the ceremonies.
"The blustery weather and coronavirus pandemic resulted in our scheduled minister and master-of-ceremonies being unable to attend,” Burkhart said. “Mike Wagner and Charlie Sellens graciously and competently filled in. I want to thank Wagner and Sellens and everyone else who participated in making this event a success.”