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Orville Stevens makes 2018 Memorial Day address at Exeter cemetery

Orville Stevens makes 2018 Memorial Day address at Exeter cemetery

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

EXETER – Citizens of Exeter made their way to the cemetery Monday morning to pay their respects to those who gave their lives fighting for the United States. And while most of their 30 minute homage was observing the raising of the flag, the medley played by the high school band and the heartfelt singing of the national anthem this year’s address made veterans and their families ponder whether serving was worth it. 

Ret. Col. James Mainwaring faces and salutes the flag at the Exeter District Cemetery concluding the annual Exeter Memorial Day ceremony on Monday morning. Photo by Paul Myers.

Ret. Col. James Mainwaring faces and salutes the flag at the Exeter District Cemetery concluding the annual Exeter Memorial Day ceremony on Monday morning. Photo by Paul Myers.

This year’s keynote speaker, Orville Stevens, is known as a long time member of the American Legion Post and as a liaison to the Veterans Affairs Hospital at the Battle Creek Medical Center. He addressed the crowd and offered some thoughts on what it means to serve, and ultimately answered that worth is up to the veterans themselves, not those they are survived by.

“We should not presume to speak for the fallen, we can make the county for which they have died a better place – one that honors their sacrifice and epitomizes the ideals enshrined in our constitution,” Stevens said.

Stevens went on to echo the sentiment of one veteran who lost his son in Iraq. He said “was it worth it” is the wrong question.

“Instead, we should commit ourselves to ‘make it worth it’,” Stevens quoted. 

This year’s keynote speaker expressed to the Exeter crowd what is left behind by those who tragically met their fate too early in life.

“Long after the battle field guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early,” Stevens said.

But without fail Stevens noted what the United States military, and along with them some of Exeter’s sons and daughters, had fought against. 

“We are here today to reflect on the true meaning of memorial Day. Let us remember that tyrannical regimes have been toppled and genocides stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb…let us remember that without a U.S. military, the world would be a far more oppressive and darker place,” Stevens expressed.

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Editor and reporter for The Sun-Gazette. Vice president of Mineral King Publishing, Inc.

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