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home : current news : current news June 20, 2018

5/29/2018 1:37:00 PM
Sisters marks Memorial Day
John Turner Col. U.S. Army (Ret.) and Brogan Petterson, Eagle Scout, BSA laid a wreath at the Sisters veterans memorial on Monday, May 28. photo by Jerry Baldock
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John Turner Col. U.S. Army (Ret.) and Brogan Petterson, Eagle Scout, BSA laid a wreath at the Sisters veterans memorial on Monday, May 28. photo by Jerry Baldock

For well over a decade now, Sisters veterans have stood tall for the real meaning and purpose of Memorial Day. No one begrudges anybody a three-day weekend of barbecues and days at the lake - but the purpose of the last Monday in May is more solemn: It is a time to salute the sacrifice of thousands of American service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country.

Each Memorial Day, the veterans of American Legion Post 86 and VFW Post 8138 present the public with a stirring ceremony to mark the occasion, in Sisters' Village Green Park.

Pat Bowe, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient served as the master of ceremonies for observances held on Monday, May 28. Bowe introduced Sisters City Councilor Richard Esterman, who welcomed a crowd of several hundred, noting that "the best way to show appreciation for our freedoms is to exercise our freedoms."

Keynote speaker Brett Miller, who was wounded in Iraq in 2004 and has since established a veterans outreach program known as Warfighter Outfitters, noted that speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony is a bit like "preaching to the choir."

"Most everyone here understands the sacrifice and meaning behind Memorial Day," Miller said. "It's a 365-days-a-year Memorial Day for those who have lost someone... a family member in combat."

Miller observed that it is difficult to grasp the meaning of the occasion when contemplating the sacrifice of thousands; it is easier to grasp when you put an individual face on it. So Miller recounted the story of Tommy Tucker of Madras, Oregon, who enlisted in the 101st Airborne at the age of 24. Tucker - a talented band musician and a natural mechanic - served four months in combat in Iraq before he was captured by enemy combatants. He died at their hands in June 2006.

Tucker is memorialized in a bronze statue in front of the police station in Madras, Miller noted.

"That is one story that you can grab onto and share - because it's local," Miller said. "We have Gold Star family members of Tommy Tucker here today."

Sacrifice is a fundamental ethic to those who answer the call to the colors," Miller noted.

"If Tommy was here today, he would say, 'I was just doing my job.' I firmly believe that," Miller said.

Sisters High Desert Chorale under the direction of Connie Gunterman sang the individual service hymns, allowing veterans to stand and be recognized for their service. Chris Patrick played "Taps" and the Village Green flag was ceremonially raised from half-staff to full-staff, where it fluttered gently in the breeze. The Redmond High School Marine Jr. ROTC retired the colors and the attendees adjourned - many visibly moved - to share some fellowship over grilled hamburgers provided by the organizers of what has become a powerful and important Sisters event.

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