Memorial Day honors the sacrifice of those who have fallen in American wars.  Each year, Sisters veterans groups gather on the designated holiday to remember and honor that sacrifice.

Due to inclement weather, last Monday’s ceremonies were moved from their traditional Village Green venue to the sanctuary of Sisters Community Church. There, keynote speaker Jim Cunningham spoke to them of sacrifice.

Cunningham, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and as the commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, framed his remarks around the third verse of the famous World War One poem “In Flanders Fields”:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

“I see the fallen soldiers calling upon me to do my duty,” Cunningham said.

What is the nature of that duty?

“It is every citizen’s civic responsibility to sacrifice,” Cunningham said.

That sacrifice may not be the ultimate sacrifice of a service member, but it entails the willingness to give up time, effort and to suffer a degree of hardship to participate in the civic life of the community and the nation, Cunningham believes.

“It’s not important how we take responsibility,” he said. “It’s only important that we do. You don’t have to serve in the armed forces to add value to your community and your nation. But you have to do something… Now is the time to make the personal commitment to take responsibility.”

In that way, Cunningham asserted, we take up the fallen’s quarrel with the foe: “The foe of indifference, the foe of ignorance, the foe of neglect.” In that way, we the living keep faith with those who died.

The Sisters Memorial Day Service is organized by Sisters American Legion Post 86 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8138.